UK: First Drinks has confirmed £40 million investment plans for 2009.
The company, which took on Remy Cointreau’s portfolio at the beginning of the month, will also acquire Isolbella sambuca in June.
Remy’s portfolio includes Rémy Martin, St Rémy, Louis XIII, Charles Heidsieck, Piper Heidsieck, Mount Gay, Cointreau and Passoa. The addition adds a further 250,000 cases to the First Drinks portfolio.
First Drinks announced 13% volume growth in 2008, across all key trading channels - on-trade, grocery and convenience/specialists. Highlights included Grant’s achieving podium position in the UK blended whisky market,, Russian Standard cementing its position as the third largest premium vodka within a year of launch and Sailor Jerry out-performing the category.
Chris Mason, managing director of First Drinks said: “We are facing the future with relish and genuinely believe we have the best balanced portfolio in the industry. Premium branded spirits are estimated to grow by 30% by 2013 so it is a very exciting time for the category. Our portfolio has always included well loved brands such as Glenfiddich, Grant’s and Russian Standard and the new brands propel us to a new level and take us into different arenas which we are hugely excited to be part of, such as champagnes and premium cognacs”.
“2009 is shaping up to be our most successful year ever and we have heavyweight marketing investment planned across all categories. We are not ignorant to the difficult trading conditions the UK market currently faces and now more than ever, brands need strong investment and top quality brand teams behind them. We have a mix of engaging above and below the line marketing campaigns planned for the next twelve months, coupled with a passionate and highly capable work force”.
To accommodate the growth in the business, First Drinks can also announce an internal restructure. The consumer marketing department has appointed three new marketing controllers to head up the dark sprits, white spirits and champagne categories. In addition, a number of roles have been added to the commercial team -a new head of category management and two new account managers working in the HORECA channel. A new trade marketing manager for Champagne will focus on brand activation in this new category for the business.
The company has also unveiled new branding, including a new company logo to reflect First Drinks’ increased premium, top-end credentials.
Brand plans include the launch of 35cl packs to the off-trade for Glenfiddich, Russian Standard, Grant’s and Three Barrels, in acknowledgement of the current financial backdrop.