“When Bulldog first started the focus was on the US and the UK,” Bulldog’s James Coston told DI. “Then Spain called and the gin craze changed things. Spain was doing so well that the UK and the US was put on the back burner. Now that Spain is ticking over we can invest that money in other markets.”
Bulldog reported global growth of 30% last year. According to IWSR, it’s the third biggest premium gin in the world.
In 2013, the brand signed a distribution agreement with Gruppo Campari and since then has increased its listings from ten countries to 70.
“Spain is the biggest market but the UK is the fastest-growing for us,” Coston said. “We see Hendrick’s as a direct competitor even though it is classed as super premium and we are now trying to replicate that success.”
Coston said the Bulldog team has increased fourfold in last year. “We are constantly in talks about hiring people. We are really focusing on getting the right people to get ‘liquid to lips’. I am going to the different markets to try and get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet.
“If you go anywhere in the world you will get the same strength and style and that helps so that everyone will know what we are about. Bulldog includes 12 botanicals from 8 countries. We're one of the first to use lavender and the only one to use lotus leaf, white poppy and dragon eye. It was criminal that it was never sung about before.”
In Spain - its biggest market - Bulldog is in the top five and Coston said the mature gin market is still growing. “Gin is really embedded in Spanish culture. There are 300 or more different brands. Spain is unique in that it is so mature as a gin market but we see the smaller craft brands dying out.”
Spain might be saturated but Belgium is becoming really important for gin producers. “Belgium is becoming a really big gin market. We see a lot of new entrants and we don’t see any sign of the decrease. It’s also trickling into Germany and Switzerland.”
In the UK, Bulldog has been picked up by Waitrose, Sainsburys and Ocado. In the on trade, Coston said: “We are not going to find Bulldog at the Savoy or the Artesian. We will find it in cool and edgy bars that make cool drinks. It’ll be found in bars that are not so serious about themselves but are serious about making good drinks.”