‘A Tequila break-out will surprise everyone’

10th February, 2017 by Kristiane Sherry

As Amber Beverage takes control of Fabrica de Tequilas Finos and its flagship KAH Tequila brand, SB speaks to CEO Seymour Ferreira on the international rise of premium Tequila, his plans for the new portfolio, and why a Tequila ‘break out’ could be on the horizon.

Amber Beverage Group CEO Seymour Ferreira

*This story runs over multiple pages

In September 2016, Amber Beverage Group branched out into a brand new category with the acquisition of a “significant equity stake” in Fabrica de Tequilas Finos, a Tequila maker and owner of more than 20 brands.

For the Latvia-based subsidiary of SPI Group, known for its Latvijas Balzams and Moskoskaya vodka brands, its first foray into the Tequila market would enable it to “establish and even stronger global footprint,” CEO Seymour Ferreira said at the time of the acquisition.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing – a legal dispute over the KAH Tequila brand in particular, probably the best known of the broad Finos stable, delayed the assumption of full ownership to December 2016. But the production facilities, and its portfolio of brands which also includes AC/DC Thunderstruck and Zapopan, is now ready to be integrated into the wider Amber Beverage stable.

In a Tequila-focused interview, Ferreira shares his ambitions for the newly acquired range, and discusses the development of the category in general.

SB: There are more than 20 brands in the deal which saw Amber Beverage take control of Fabrica de Tequilas Finos. Which do you think will lead the portfolio?

SF: There are a number of brands which we’re evaluating at the moment. I think the ones that have immediate appeal, that already have distribution for example in America, and in some other countries, are brands like AC/DC Thunderstruck which obviously brings with it a whole fan base that already exists. Then there are other brands, like Zapopan, which is a super high-quality, 100% agave product which again has only had limited exposure outside America, but quite good distribution mainly in the supermarket chains in the US. We’re looking quite closely at a brand called Agave 99 to see if we can take that outside of its core market which again, not surprisingly, is America. And then there are there are a couple of other brands within the portfolio like Don Camilo, which we think could have potential in the more premium and super-premium categories. But I’m sure as you can imagine we have to be focused about where we out our resources, and our effort, so while there might be 20 brands in the portfolio the only brands that are getting any focus from us at the moment are the ones that I’ve named, and of course KAH.

How will you be strategic given that Tequila is such an underdeveloped category outside of Mexico and the US?

Most of the markets outside of the US really fall into the mainstream or value categories. There is some developing premium and super-premium business, for example in the UK and in some European countries, along with Australia and Russia, but on the whole, Tequila as a category is understood by consumers primarily as a party drink. However once you get into the 100% agave products and into products that have been aged correctly, and for a longer period of time such as extra añejo, it really is an exceptional experience. The category does have a long way to go, but I think that’s part of the reason why you’re seeing the whole Tequila category grow in double digits. It makes it exciting for a company like ours as we look to establish themselves in the international arena, and to create a new footprint for our company and existing brands.

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