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Business News/ Companies / Thai Beverage enters into Indian market with single malts

Thai Beverage enters into Indian market with single malts

The company will retail single malt Scotch whiskies, including Old Pulteney, Balblair and Speyburn

ThaiBev is owned by Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi. Photo: BloombergPremium
ThaiBev is owned by Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi. Photo: Bloomberg

Bengaluru: International Beverage Holdings Ltd, the global arm of Thai Beverage, one of South East Asia’s largest liquor companies, on Monday announced its entry into the Indian market with the launch of premium single malts and gins.

“The past few years have seen a real acceleration and taste for luxury imported goods -- especially in the top metros," Malcolm Leask, vice president international sales, IBHL, said in a telephone interview.

The company will retail single malt Scotch whiskies, including Old Pulteney, Balblair and Speyburn, in markets such as Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chandigarh and Bengaluru. It will market Scottish gin Caorunn in Delhi and Mumbai.

The company has been scoping the Indian market for a possible entry for five years, but finding the right partners and opportunity to sell high-end single malts delayed entry.

It has partnered with New Delhi-based Dhall Beverages for marketing and distribution rights—a business model it follows across a majority of the 85 markets it operates in.

India’s growing “affluence" and “international population" has been key factors in the decision to enter India. It will retail bottles ranging from 4,500 (gin) to 6,700 (Balbair single malt).

While the Indian market is packed with local IMFL brands (Indian made foreign liquor), the gap at the super-premium end of the market needed to be filled, Leask said.

Premium whisky accounts for only 4% of all whisky sales in the country.

However, the premium segment has been outpacing the general category, with a growth of over 18% annually in the past five years.

A handful of global liquor companies have been seeking to tap the growing premium liquor market in India—while Diageo Plc launched limited editions of Johnnie Walker Blue Label a few years ago, Willaim Grant has been selling Glenfiddich and Grant’s and plans to launch more brands such as Monkey Shoulder.

Thai Beverages also owns the popular beer brand Chang but the company plans to focus only on the premium range of the market.

“There is less depth in the super-premium liquor market, while the domestic beer market is well supplied in this country," added Leask. saying that at least for the next five years the company will build the high-end market.

ThaiBev is owned by Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, whose wealth is estimated at $11.3 billion (Forbes 2015), and it sells beer, whisky, instant coffee and teas across markets ranging from Hong Kong to Scotland.

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Suneera Tandon
Suneera Tandon is a New Delhi based reporter covering consumer goods for Mint. Suneera reports on fast moving consumer goods makers, retailers as well as other consumer-facing businesses such as restaurants and malls. She is deeply interested in what consumers across urban and rural India buy, wear and eat. Suneera holds a masters degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi.
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Published: 28 Jul 2015, 12:58 AM IST
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