ABD may invest in start-ups, tie-up global brands for India entry

  • ABD has been actively looking to expand its presence in the premium spirits market and has created a vertical called PremBrands for the same.

Suneera Tandon
First Published21 Jun 2024, 07:00 AM IST
The move comes as the company, which draws a bulk of its revenue from whisky, looks to expand to tap more premium consumers.
The move comes as the company, which draws a bulk of its revenue from whisky, looks to expand to tap more premium consumers.

Mumbai: Liquor company Allied Blenders and Distillers (ABD) is eyeing a distribution tie-up to sell foreign liquor brands in India and also actively talking to homegrown start-ups to invest in craft spirits brands, as the company eyes a greater share in the premium end of the alcoholic beverages market.

“We spend reasonable time looking at the whole startup space. There's a lot of interest and current conversations that we are doing with a few founders in the non-gin and non-whisky space, the focus is on premium dark spirits, for instance,” Alok Gupta, managing director, Allied Blenders and Distillers, said at the company’s pre-IPO press meet Thursday. 

The move comes as the company, which draws a bulk of its revenue from whisky, looks to expand to tap more premium consumers. 

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In the past few years, it has diversified into selling gin. However, the mainstay of its business continues to be Officer’s Choice whisky, a brand launched in 1988 that marked its entry into the mass premium whisky segment. It sells 19 million cases of Officer’s Choice whisky annually, and draws nearly 95% of its sales from whisky.

Start-ups in alcohol

Gupta said start-ups are tapping into emerging consumer trends, something incumbents have been slow to catch-up on. 

“That nimbleness is what we like, so the idea is we retain all of that and open access to our distribution to them,” he added. Gupta declined to share investments the company could plough into new-age brands.

New-age alcoholic brands such as Greater Than gin, Stranger & Sons gin or Bira91 beer have emerged in the past decade, offering a greater variety of spirits to Indian consumers. While the market for such brands is still small, they have challenged incumbents with innovative packaging and speaking to a more discerning set of consumers. 

ABD’s product portfolio comprises over two dozen Indian made foreign liquor or IMFL brands across whisky, brandy, rum, and vodka. Prominent brands include Officer’s Choice whisky, Sterling Reserve, Jolly Roger rum, Zoya gin, among others. It sells 30 million cases a year across all its brands.

ABD has been actively looking to expand its presence in the premium spirits market and has created a vertical called PremBrands for the same. Apart from Zoya, PremBrands includes spirits such as Sterling Reserve B10, X&O, Srishti whiskies, and Kyron Brandy.

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To be sure, nearly 70% of IMFL sales in value terms in India are still whisky—making India one of the largest whisky markets in the world. IMFL sales by value is estimated at 1.74 trillion in fiscal 2022 and projected to reach 2.4 trillion by fiscal 2025.

Global connect

The company is “actively” looking to partner global liquor companies to bring more international brands to India as it expands its portfolio of premium spirits. Currently, it has no such tie-up.

“We are at a significant advanced level of discussions. There is a great level of interest from brands all over the world, not just Europe, but, say, tequila out of Mexico, it could be Japanese whiskey or a Taiwanese whiskey, etc.,” he added.


The company could work out a long-term partnership to build these brands in India. 

“The idea is to find that unique white space where we have  the right to play and right to win. There are some unique flavour-price combinations that are undiscovered and try to build a first-mover advantage there. Tequila could be one of them,” Gupta said.

The company's consolidated revenue from operations for the year ended 31 March 2023 stood at 7,105.6 crore, down 1.2% year-on-year. Its main competitors are United Spirits Limited, Pernod Ricard India Private Limited and Radico Khaitan Limited.

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ABD’s IPO (initial public offering) is set to open on 25 June. The IPO consists of fresh issues of up to 1,000 crore and an offer for sale (OFS) of up to 500 crore by the promoters. The proceeds will be utilized to the extent of 720 crore for repayment of outstanding borrowings and general corporate purposes, the company said Thursday.

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First Published:21 Jun 2024, 07:00 AM IST
HomeCompaniesABD may invest in start-ups, tie-up global brands for India entry

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