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Russian Standard Completes CEDC Deal, Launches Green Mark And Adds Zubrowka In U.S.

June 6, 2013

After months of talks, Russian Standard has formally acquired former rival vodka producer Central European Distribution Corp. (CEDC).

The acquisition, part of a court-ordered restructuring of debt-ridden CEDC, will add vodka brands including Green Mark, Zubrowka, Parliament, Zhuravli, Absolwent and Soplica to the Russian Standard stable and bring the company’s total annual volume to 34 million cases.

“Together with the Russian Standard brand, Green Mark and Zubrowka will be our focus,” said Russian Standard founder and chairman Roustam Tariko in an interview with SND. “Green Mark has huge potential in Western markets, where we hope to repeat the success it has had in Eastern Europe and Russia.”

Green Mark sold 6.9 million nine-liter cases last year and is a leader in the Russian market’s mainstream vodka segment. In Western markets, the brand has had notable success in the U.K., where full distribution was achieved in mid-2012.

“Green Mark will soon celebrate its first full year on the U.K. market, and it will be over 100,000 cases,” Tariko said. “I think our success there is due to a couple of factors. First, the U.K.’s consumers and retailers are tired of Smirnoff’s domination and want to see competition. And second, I believe they want a vodka that’s genuinely Russian.”

Bison grass flavored vodka Zubrowka, a Polish brand, is also being groomed by Russian Standard for export success. “Zubrowka has a 600-year-old recipe and is an historic, beautiful brand,” Tariko added.

This month, Russian Standard USA is launching Green Mark and Zubrowka in the U.S. market. Zubrowka is actually transitioning from Remy Cointreau USA to the Russian Standard portfolio, while Green Mark is making its full-fledged debut.

Green Mark will retail at $12.99 a 750-ml in the U.S., competing in the mid-premium segment, which saw overall growth of more than 12% in 2012. Zubrowka, marketed as ZU in the United States, will compete in the premium flavored vodka segment, retailing at $24.99 a 750-ml. While ZU will have strong off-premise distribution, it also plans a major effort in the mixology community, where it already has a following.

The CEDC deal also expands Russian Standard’s distribution business, giving it an importing platform in Poland and Hungary, where CEDC handles brands including Jim Beam, E&J Gallo, Carlo Rossi, Grant’s, Campari and Concha y Toro. In the Russian market, Russian Standard has an extensive distribution portfolio that includes Rémy Cointreau, Jägermeister and Whyte & Mackay, among others.

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