UDV India Prepares For Life After Gilbeys

New Delhi: | Updated: Dec 23 2002, 05:30am hrs
UDV India Ltd is preparing for life after the sale of India-centric brand Gilbeys Green, which accounted for around 90 per cent of the companys spirits sales.

Post-Gilbeys, the companys size has shrunk by more than half. The headcount at UDV India is now less than 100 from a high of around 200-250, says UDV India director (marketing) Anupam Dutta.

Triumph Distillers & Vinters, promoted by its ex-UDV boss Mr Deepak Roy, is understood to have absorbed a bulk of the staff along with the buying of the two-million cases a year Gilbeys Green brand.

Now the rules of the operation are: align Indian business to support parent Diageos strategy to focus on eight Global Priority Brands (GPB). These include: Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Baileys, Guinness stout beer, Tanqueray gin, J&B scotch, Cuervo tequila, and Captain Morgan rum.

Currently, of these eight GPBs, UDV India has four brandsSmirnoff (bottled in India), Johnnie Walker, Baileys and J&Bwhich receive marketing support from the company.

In India, which has been traditionally a whisky market, UDV has been able to establish vodka brand Smirnoff (global sales: 18 million cases) with volume sales of one lakh cases a year. UDV India expects the vodka brand to grow at the rate of 25 per cent next year.

As for Johnnie Walker (global sales: 10 million cases) and J&B, the company will have to wait for another three-four years when a gradual reduction in import duties would make these brands acceptable for organised retail sales. Till that happens, the company would focus on non-GPB brands like Black & White, which is selling around 10,000 cases a year and Vat 69 (around 20,000 cases a year.)

According to UDV India, Johnnie Walker enjoys a large share of premium Scotch consumption around two lakh cases out of seven lakh cases a year in the country.

For the moment, it looks like that UDV India has no single brand which can bring back the volumes glory of Gilbeys Green Label. Brands like Smirnoff give better margins but the company would need some brands to bolster volumes too.

Will UDV India launch Smirnoff Ice (global sales: 34 million cases) Says Mr Dutta: Were closely monitoring the development of a new RTD category (ready-to-drink flavoured alcoholic beverages). Initial trends suggest that the RTD product can co-exist with Indias 64 million cases a year beer market.