Gin goes global in duty free

25 May, 2018

Gin has some way to go to rival vodka in terms of size in travel retail, but its rise in recent years has been remarkable, writes Joe Bates


GIN HAS SHAKEN OFF an unfashionable image to become one of the fastest-growing spirit categories in duty free. In 2016, gin grew 5.1%, ahead of scotch, vodka, gin and rum, according to the IWSR. Totalling around 1.27m cases, the gin category is still less than half the size of the duty free vodka sector, but with more craft brands entering the market, and retailers in Asia and the Middle East starting to expand their gin assortments, the outlook is promising.

Global Travel Retail’s attraction for gin producers remains its affluent customer base and high-profile brand marketing potential. “Global travel retail is a key platform for expanding Pernod Ricard’s gin brands in front of 3.1bn travellers a year,” says Pernod Ricard Global Travel Retail brand director Lisa McCann.

“The channel plays an integral role in the growth strategy for the gin category, including Beefeater, which is the world’s most awarded gin brand, and Plymouth, the number four super-premium gin brand in the US.”

She adds: “To stand out and maintain visibility in GTR, we celebrate the superiority, tradition and uniqueness of Pernod Ricard’s gin brands through creative packaging, the launch of inspiring products, promotions and activations in the channel. In addition, PRGTR creates distinct travel retail limited editions that can be collected and coveted among family and friends.”

For Jacob Ehrenkrona, chief executive of Martin Miller’s gin, GTR is the “perfect channel” to promote your brand. “I hear people globally say: ‘Oh, I see so much Martin Miller’s gin nowadays.’ But when you drill down and ask them: ‘Where did you actually see it?’ You are surprised how often they say: ‘Duty free.’”

In January, this year, Martin Miller’s sold a majority 55% stake of the business to Spain’s Zamora Company. The brand’s co-founders, David Bromige, Andreas Versteegh and Ehrenkrona retained a 45% stake.

Ehrenkrona believes the new ownership structure will provide a boost to the company’s travel retail business, which is reasonably strong in the UK, Spain, Iceland and the Channel Islands, but lacks a properly global presence in the sector.

“It gives us a bigger platform globally, particularly in duty free where they have a dedicated team to manage it, which we didn’t before. Now that will enable us to focus more on duty free,” he argues.

Key ambitions for Martin Miller’s in duty free in 2018 and beyond, according to Ehrenkrona, are to gain listings for Westbourne Strength, a high-strength 45.2% abv variant of the brand, and Nine Moons, a bourbon barrel-aged line extension, with leading duty free operators worldwide.

To calibrate gin’s recent rise in duty free, look no further than the testimony of London-based company Quintessential Brands, whose bulging gin portfolio includes the standard London Dry gin Greenall’s, the small-batch craft gin Thomas Dakin, Opihr Oriental Spiced gin, the light, floral Bloom gin and the ultra-premium Berkeley Square.

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