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Casting its spell on take home sales

Wychwood, one of the newest regional brewers in the business, is making plans to become a major marketing force in the take home beer sector.

It has ambitions to be one of the top three off-trade bottled beer suppliers.

Key to this is the end of a longstanding deal with Marston's -- the loser in the recent acrimonious takeover battle with fellow midlands brewer Wolverhampton and Dudley.

Marston's had been selling and marketing the Wychwood beers. These are being brought back in house, although W&D will still bottle and deliver some of the brands.

Wychwood is building up its portfolio with the addition of Special and Bee Sting from Brakspear and Hardy Country and Royal Oak from Eldridge Pope.

Former Marston's take home general manager James Coyle takes on the role of sales director and is planning to double the company's market share by the end of the year. He is building on a growing base. Wychwood is the sixth largest supplier of bottled ales to the take home market. Sales trebled last year to 5m [pounds sterling].

The company is only 12 years old and made its name as an idiosyncratic pub chain that brewed its own beers. It branched out into take home three years ago and won extensive listings for a range of attractively packaged ales led by Hobgoblin.

Coyle said: "We have a winning formula in terms of innovation and new product development.

"We have plans to develop Hobgoblin and new brands under the Wychwood banner.

"The strategy also involves distributing complementary beers from other regionals to reduce supply chain costs."

This is still evolving. Wychwood has a 6% share of the take home bottled beer market. Coyle said there are discussions taking place with another regional which would bring that share up to 9%.

This year the brewer will also be targeting key events with limited edition beers including Old Father Time, Solar Eclipse and Rugby Special.

THE DAMM BIDDERS

The favourites likely to be making sealed bids for the Spanish brewer Cruzcampo are thought to be another Spanish company Damm, and Heineken.

The Diageo subsidiary is to be sold through a controlled auction.

The drinks giant is said to be looking for 400 [pounds sterling]-500m [pounds sterling] and is believed to prefer brewers which already have a stake in the Spanish market. Barcelona based Damm has some 13.5% of the market. Heineken's link with the country is through El Aguila, which has a 17% share.

Cruzcampo accounts for 25% of Spanish beer.

Nigel Popham at City analyst Teather Greenwood agreed with the sense of Diageo's decision to sell.

"It has not worked well for them. They are selling at a slightly depressed price. It is a relatively small non core operation that has not been particularly successful"

NI brands moved

Seagram is making tactical changes to distribution arrangements for its key brands in Northern Ireland.

Absolut vodka, which was launched by United Wine Merchants and handled by them for the last two years, is moving to Dillon Bass.

UWM has now agreed to handle the Martell cognac range and Heidsieck Monopole champagne.

It will continue to handle a wide range of Seagram's other premium brands including Captain Morgan rum, Morgan's Spiced, VAT 19, Perrier Jouet and Mumm champagnes, Cuvee Napa, Four Roses, Redwood Trail, Vina Porta and Wolf Blass wines.

In addition to Absolut, Dillon Bass will become sole distributor for Plymouth gin, Myers Planters Punch and Olmeca Tequila Gold.

These brands will be targeting the on-trade.

Dillon Bass already handles Sandeman ports, White Satin gin, The Glenlivet and Chivas Regal.

Beck's gets 12m [pounds sterling] push into spotlight

The gloves are off in the fight for the lion's share of the premium packaged lager market.

Scottish Courage has set its sights on the market leaders Stella Artois and Budweiser and is planning to unleash the full potential of Beck's, the German star in its portfolio. The brand has received little attention in the last couple of years but it still has the third highest brand awareness -- and that without any TV support.

Marketing director Brian Sharp said: "Perhaps Beck's did not have the focus it should have had in the last two years. We have probably not invested as much behind the brand as we have done on some other things."

All that is about to change. The first sign of this is new outer packaging going into trade next month. This is the tip of a 12m [pounds sterling] support initiative which features a brand new TV and cinema campaign.

"Our review led us to believe we needed to make some strategy changes. We need to be more serious about communicating the integrity and confidence of the brand to consumers.

"The new adds will put Beck's back in contact with the target male 25 to 34 year old audience. We cannot afford to be uninvolved."

The brewer will be making use of a database of 60,000 Beck's consumers to undertake some relationship marketing.

The brand is the flagship of Beck of Bremen, Germany's leading beer exporter. It is also the fifth largest German brewer. As part of its global support for the brand, Beck has signed a joint marketing deal with BMW. This will give it close involvement in motorsport, particularly the American Le Mans series.

LEADER AHEAD

Independent Scotch whisky producer Burn Stewart reported sales of its flagship blend Scottish Leader up 9% in 1998 compared with 1997. Tobermory, its single malt, outperformed the market with 30% sales growth.

King Brian's vodka to enter UK

Boru vodka from Ireland is ready to hit the UK following a successful test market in the US and the home market.

Named after the first king of Ireland, the spirit is produced by Dublin based Boru Vodka Company.

It is manufactured from Irish spring water and 100% grain distilled through Atlantic Irish oak charcoal at the Carbery Milk Creamery in West Cork.

Going into reverse to drive PPS sector

Beverage Brands is continuing its development of the premium packaged spirits market with the addition of another brand to its range.

It is putting Elm behind the launch of VRB, a vodka based stimulation drink.

Following the rise and fall of alcopops -- now declining at 35% -- the pps sector has been driving the growth.

Its sales are 70% up year on year and it is led by Bacardi-Martini with a range which includes Bacardi Breezer, Metz and V2. Beverage Brands is in second place with its WKD and Woody's Cocktail collections.

Marketing manager Karen Salters said: "Our portfolio is driven by WKD which is growing by 180% and has a very good rate of sale.

"VRB is positioned in a similar market but will be focusing on the south and central regions. WKD's heartland is in Granada and Tyne Tees."

VRB stands for vodka revitalising bevvy and the recipe includes glucose, taurine, caffeine and 5.3% alcohol. It is sold in 275ml bottles retailing at 1.09 [pounds sterling].

It is targeted at 18 to 25 year old men, with women in the same age group as a secondary target.

Salters said: "If you aim a product at men, women will pick it up and the reverse is not usually true."

The support will include advertising and sponsorship in the style and trade press, promotional events and point of sale.

The launch follows national consumer research into the product which is designed to capitalise on the 200% growth of the energy drinks market.

The brand has an on-trade bias and already has listings with Matthew Clark Wholesale, Waverley and Tavern. Presentations are now being made to the grocery multiples.

Managing director Joe Woods said: "Stimulation drinks have been part of the consumer's repertoire for a while, both at home and in pub.,; and clubs.

"However, being expensive, they are not usually used as session drinks.

"The target consumers find VRB easy to drink and this, combined with the accessible price point, encourages them to continue using it throughout the evening."

Archers pushed towards mainstream

UDV is trying to break Archers out of its speciality niche and present it as a mainstream white spirit.

The peach schnapps has been consistently successful since IDV launched it into the speciality market in May 1988, after a two year test market.

The brand has been revitalised and its annual sales are 21% up, against speciality spirits growing at 9%.

Now the company has sufficient confidence in the brand to want it to take a place alongside giants such as Smirnoff, Gordon's and Bacardi.

Its credentials to join this exclusive club include being the fastest growing white spirit and being among the top 20 fastest growing drinks brands.

Its share of the white spirits market comprising gin, vodka, white rum, tequila, Archers and Malibu is put at 1.5%. Gordon's has 10.7% and Smirnoff Red 10.8%.

The repositioning features a more sophisticated target audience of women over 21.

Its media budget has been increased from 1.3m [pounds sterling] last spring to 1.5m [pounds sterling] this year.

This features four new TV ads which are running this month and part of next.

SHEPHERD NEAME GOES GM FREE The controversy surrounding GM foods has prompted Kent brewer Shepherd Neame to declare all its beers free of genetically modified products.

It has conducted a complete audit of its suppliers who provide the ingredients for the beer such as hops, yeast and malt. Production director Ian Dixon said: "We recognise the consumer concerns and have received certificates from all suppliers giving assurances of ingredient purity."

With him are quality assurance brewer Leigh Terry (I) and senior brewer Mark Dobnar.

New pack for Strongbow

The UK's leading cider Strongbow is being relaunched in a new pack. The brand is now the eighth best-selling long drink and is being supported this year by an 8m [pounds sterling] media campaign. It is planned that a sampling initiative by HP Bulmer will reach one million consumers between May and October.

EU fortifying name controls

The European wine producers have tightened their grip on the terminology the rest of the world can use for its wines.

A hurriedly put together European Commission regulation came into force this month which restricts the words importers can use to describe their wines.

So far they only refer to sparkling and liqueur or fortified wines. The debate on the terms for still wines is likely to be going on for some time.

The long list includes such basics as extra, fine, reserve, grand reserve, ruby, tawny, vintage and vintage character.

The regulation was born out of negotiations with the Australians who agreed to stop using various terms if a Europe wide ruling could be made. The list of names had to be drawn up quickly if the regulation was to come into force this month.

The issues surrounding traditional terms for still wine are now going before the World Trade Organisation and the debates will take some time as various wine producing nations want to protect their own regions and words.

BODEGAS PUSH MANZANILLA SHERRIES

A marketing push to promote Manzanilla sherries in the UK is being led by three bodegas who have joined forces.

Manzanilla accounts for 60% of all wine sold from Spain's sherry region. Antonio Barbadillo, Vinicola Hidalgo and Herederos de Argueso have pooled their resources to make the most of this in the UK.

The programme, going out to the trade and consumers, will communicate the wines as light, contemporary and versatile.

A spokesman for the three said: "We believe we can stimulate consumer interest in Manzanilla in particular and the sherry sector in general by raising public awareness."

Manzanilla is lightly fortified with an abv of 15%. It has its own Denominacion de Origen from the coastal town of Sanlucar de Barrameda in the south west.

The plan includes PR, sampling, exhibition presence and on-trade liaison.

Oceans swell at 3.99 [pounds sterling] point

Percy Fox is introducing two new wines from South Africa at the 3.99 [pounds sterling] entry point.

The Cape Confluence Red and White are additions to the Two Oceans range which has recently been repackaged.

A high percentage of the white is chenin blanc and the red is a blend of pinotage, shiraz and ruby cabernet.

Brand manager Nadege Lestage said: "We have ambitious plans for Two Oceans and an extensive advertising campaign in the trade press is scheduled for later in the year."

On the right race track

Scottish Courage is planning to make the most of Foster's support of Grand Prix with a high profile promotion, in store theatre and novelty can.

Marketing director Brian Sharp said: "This is the brand's third year as an official sponsor of Grand Prix and it is proving very successful. It has its highest ever share of the standard lager market with 12.2% and is growing four times faster than the market."

A national themed promotion will offer consumers World Grand Prix holidays under the Drink It, Think It, Win It banner. In multiple grocers this will be run in store magazines.

The latest packaging innovation from Scottish Courage is a special Foster's can designed to make the most of the sponsorship.

This limited edition specially shaped can will be available in all sectors until the British Grand Prix in July.

SHORTS

A new premium packaged spirit, Raw Spirit, is being rolled out nationally following a test market in the south east. A spokesman for brand owner Imperial Drinks said the initial focus will be in the on-trade and the brand will be supported with regional advertising as distribution is established. A radio campaign for London is also being considered. The drink is sold in aluminum bottles, has a vodka base and comes in three flavours.

A new brew, Yorkshire Square Ale, will be added to the Black Sheep Brewery's range in May. Its label will feature a specially commissioned painting by Yorkshire expressionist Mackenzie Thorpe. The 5% ale joins the Masham brewery's two other take home ales, Black Sheep Ale and Riggwelter.

LVMH has acquired a majority share of the celebrated sauterne house Chateau d'Yquem. The deal gives the luxury brands group 64% of the estate, which has 450 acres of prime Bordeaux vineyards.

Booker is offering an exclusive eight for 6 [pounds sterling] pack of Foster's lager carrying the Fostralia 2000 promotion. This will run until May 6. The wholesale price per case containing three eight packs of the 500ml cans is 12.79 [pounds sterling].

Robert Cain has added to its collection of gift beers with the introduction of a limited edition 2000 Millennium Ale. The 5% brew is presented in a gift tube retailing at 1.99 [pounds sterling]. It will be available in store from June.

Matthew Clark has signed up Stowells of Chelsea as the sponsor of a new TV series on Carlton Food Network called Grape Expectations. It will broadcast three times a week until the end of May.

Australian company Mitchelton Wines has added a 1997 Shiraz to its Preece range of varietals. This is distributed in the UK by John E Fells.

An eight year old Janneau armagnac is being introduced to the UK through distributor John E Fells. The 50cl bottle will retail at 16.99 [pounds sterling] which compares with the five year old version at 12.99 [pounds sterling].
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Publication:Grocer
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 24, 1999
Words:2570
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