Priyanka Jethwa speaks to channel director James Middleton to discuss Pernod Ricard UK’s plans for its drinks brands this year.
BW: How has Pernod Ricard UK helped wholesalers grow sales in the past 12 months?
JM: We’re continuing to support our customers by supplying premium brands consumers enjoy, in both the on- and off-trade. Absolut, for example, is experiencing great momentum in all channels with Absolut Raspberri – our raspberry-flavoured vodka, which is the number-one flavoured vodka in the off-trade – and Absolut Vanilia, our vanilla-flavoured vodka, which holds the same position in the on-trade.
New products are essential to boosting sales and for us, innovation added 2.5% growth across a range of our categories last year. Absolut is now the number-one premium vodka and the number-one flavoured vodka in the UK, which we’ve achieved in the off-trade through an increased rate of sale. This demonstrates how strongly the new products and limited editions we’ve been releasing are resonating with customers and consumers.
BW: What trends and opportunities are emerging that customers can take advantage of?
The demand for ready-to-drink (RTD) options is continuing to grow and we’re delighted to have entered the category for the first time this year with premium offerings from Absolut and Jameson. RTD cans are experiencing exceptional value growth of 12.2% and with a rich heritage in flavour innovation, Absolut Mixt will propel the brand’s expertise into the category and offer a superior taste. We’re delighted with how well Jameson has solidified its presence in the RTD market, with Jameson Ginger & Lime increasing excitement and engagement around Irish whiskey among younger consumers.
BW: What advice would you give wholesalers looking to grow sales in spirits?
A massive trend that has emerged is consumers’ interest in citrus cocktails. We know that more than 82% of consumers regularly drink citrus cocktails, which is why we launched Absolut Lime. With its strong versatility and broad preference, lime-flavoured vodka represents 10% value share of total flavoured vodka and is worth £13.7m.
For those looking to grow vodka sales, there are a couple of key indicators wholesalers should bear in mind. Firstly, the quality – vodka is currently categorised as standard, premium and super-premium, and Absolut is a great option for those looking for a premium upsell.
Secondly, a range wouldn’t be complete without a selection of flavoured vodkas to create a range of interesting cocktails for all types of occasion, and as mentioned, Absolut has an extensive and bestselling range from which to choose.
BW: Are you planning any activity of which wholesalers should be aware?
We don’t want to give the game away too soon, but it’s going to be an exciting few months for Absolut, with the Absolut Rainbow bottle – launching to tie in with Gay Pride events across the UK this summer – marking the start of an ambitious multimillion-pound marketing campaign, so stay tuned.
Also, following the successful off-trade launch of Martell VS Single Distillery earlier this year, we will be pushing the new liquid and bottle out to the on-trade in September to continue our mission to refresh and update the cognac category.
BW: What’s Pernod Ricard UK’s greatest achievement over the past year?
We’ve seen huge success across our core key spirit brands, including Absolut, Jameson, Beefeater, Plymouth Chivas and Malibu, with growth occurring across the board. This has been driven by new products such as Absolut Lime, Glenallachie and Martell VS Single Distillery, which have all created incremental sales opportunities.
BW: What would you like to see happening in wholesale in the next 12 months?
We’d like to see a continued focus on premium and the opportunity it provides retailers by enhancing their range across all categories within wine, spirits and champagnes.
As a supplier, we’ll support wholesalers and retailers with ranging and merchandising advice to drive improved discipline in store and ultimately support growth in the channel.
Pernod Ricard SA was formed 42 years ago through a merger
Brands Pernod Ricard SA has in the world’s top 100 spirits
Pernod Ricard UK’s turnover in the year to June 2016