Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

Exclusive: Despite China’s Struggles, World’s Top 10 Spirits Marketers Post Solid Growth

October 1, 2014

Impact’s exclusive report on the world’s top 10 spirits marketers reveals that most of the industry’s biggest players posted growth in 2013, even as key emerging markets like China, Russia and Brazil have faced their share of challenges.

The Top 10 achieved aggregate growth of 2.6% last year, as seven companies were on the rise, including global leaders Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Gruppo Campari and Brown-Forman. Two top Indian players—Allied Blenders & Distillers and Radico Khaitan—also achieved growth, as India was one of the few major emerging markets that showed significant progress in 2013. La Martiniquaise likewise advanced, as the French spirits market rebounded after a marked dropoff in 2012 that was caused by a tax hike. The newly-formed Beam Suntory endured a slight decline in 2013 (on a pro-forma basis), as did Bacardi Ltd. Plagued by the Russian market’s difficulties, Russian Standard Corp. also lost ground.

India has also been a growth engine for Pernod Ricard thanks to its stable of local whisky brands (Pernod’s overall volume rose by 4.2% last year, although outside of India it was up by only around 1%), but, ironically, the same can’t be said for Diageo. In July, the London-based spirits leader raised its stake in United Spirits Ltd. (USL) to 54.78% when it acquired an additional 26% stake in India’s biggest spirits marketer for £1.1 billion ($1.89b). In all, Diageo paid £1.8 billion ($3.1b) to gain its majority share.)

For years, USL was the standout performer among Impact’s top 10 spirits marketers, as brands like Bagpiper and McDowell’s No. 1 whisky and rum racked up huge gains. However, Radico, Allied and Pernod have all stolen share from USL over the past few years, as the marketer’s dominance has waned. Just three years ago, USL was still enjoying near double-digit growth. However, the Indian spirits giant’s pace decelerated to 3.6% in 2012, and it slowed again last year, when it was basically flat at roughly 125 million cases. Still, Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes sees plenty of upside for USL—and for Diageo’s overall prospects in India. “India has now become one of Diageo’s largest markets and will be a major contributor to our growth ambitions,” he said recently.

A full report on the world’s top 10 spirits marketers appears in the September 1&15 issue of Impact.



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