William Grant has a promising long-term outlook on India: CEO Simon Hunt

NEW DELHI: William Grant, the world’s third largest Scotch whisky maker, is looking at local production in India to cater to increasing demand for premium liquor in the country, its CEO Simon Hunt has said. Hunt, however, declined to clarify if the Scottish distiller of Glenfiddich single malt and Grant’s blended Scotch plans to launch Indian made foreign liquor brands or only to bottle some of its international brands locally. “In terms of local production the company takes a long term view and it is absolutely one of the things we are looking at,” he told ET in an exclusive interview. “At this stage I can only say we are exploring it,” Hunt said, declining to share any other detail. At present William Grant imports its brands — which include Balvenie single malt Scotch, Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey, Hendrick’s gin and Drambuie liqueur — into the country, attracting high taxes. Its brands are priced between Rs 1,300 and Rs 32,000 per bottle, higher than comparable brands of rivals Diageo and Pernod Ricard that bottle their more popular Scotch and other premium brands in the country. Diageo and Pernod Ricard also have indigenous brands in their portfolio that straddle across price points in India, one of the biggest spirits market in the world. Unlike the bigger rivals that entered India more than a decade ago, William Grant was entirely dependent on local distributors until four years ago. But the company has managed to triple its sales since it took direct control of its India operations. The company now expects India to be its biggest global market in the coming decades. “We take a very long term view,” Hunt said. “When we look at India we look at the growth trends, its demographics, earning potentials, the penetration of consumer goods. We see a really promising long term outlook.” He said Indian consumers are “making a statement on how they are progressing in the social hierarchy” through liquor brands with single malts and blended Scotch. The liquor industry in India, a young country with a billion-plus population, increasing disposable income and low per capita consumption of alcohol, has been expanding at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 12% in the decade to 2011.
Source: ET