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Diageo targets number one spot with Singleton

Diageo has revealed its plan to make The Singleton the world’s best-selling single malt Scotch whisky after launching its three variants internationally.

Diageo has revealed ambitious plans to make its The Singleton brand the world’s best-selling single malt whisky

The claim was made by David Gates, head of premium core spirits at Diageo, who was outlining the group’s growth ambitions for Scotch whisky during an investors’ conference, held in New York earlier this week.

Gates said that despite “macro-economic” turbulence, “threats” from other whisky categories and a “rapidly changing” consumer dynamic which have led to the sector’s decline in recent years, Diageo is “confident” that its Scotch business will grow in the short, medium and long-term.

Outlining the group’s five point growth strategy for its Scotch whisky business, Gates said that while Diageo is the world’s number one player in the single malt Scotch whisky sector, this may not be obvious since it does not own any of the world’s three largest brands – The Glenlivet, Glenfiddich and The Macallan.

“Ours has historically been a ‘string of pearls’ strategy,” he said. “We have the largest portfolio of any competitor, spanning price points from premium to prestige. The sheer number of liquid expressions we can share with consumers is unparalleled.

“But at the end of the day, there are a handful of mainstream malts that set the tone and ours isn’t one of them, yet. And this represents a shift of emphasis in our strategy.”

Diageo is therefore putting The Singleton at the heart of its single malt growth plan, and is aiming to make it the best-selling brand in the category, overtaking Chivas Brothers’ The Glenlivet, which itself recently swiped the title from William Grant & Sons’ Glenfiddich.

The Singleton, described as a “recruitment malt”, is aiming to become Diageo’s largest single malt contributor of volume. Since its launch 10 years ago, the brand has grown to become the world’s fifth best-selling single malt brand.

To deliver on its ambition to boost The Singleton to first position, Gates said Diageo has both increased volume and made the three expressions in the range available internationally.

Previously, the Singleton of Glen Ord was sold in Asia only, the Singleton of Duffton in Europe only and the Singleton of Glendullan in the US & Canada only. However, each bottling will now be available in all markets.

“[This] allows us to combine the volume of the three different distilleries under one simple trademark each with its own unique taste profile although united by their approachability and ease of drinking,” added Gates.

In addition, Diageo has redesigned packaging for The Singleton to “make it easier” for consumers to understand the three different distilleries and the three different age statements cited in the range.

Under the strategy, The Singleton will be “flanked” by Diageo’s “Discovery Malts” (Talisker, Oban, Lagavulin,Cardhu and Dalwhinnie.) and “Prestige Malts” (Mortlach and the Special Releases range).

Scotch whisky delivers one third of Diageo’s profit. The group owns 28 malt distilleries, one grain distillery and a 50% share in another.

When announcing its full-year financial results for 2014/15, Diageo revealed its £1bn investment to expand its Scotch whisky business was still on ice after category sales fell 9% in the year.

Referring to the delay, Gates said: “We have moderated our distillation from planned levels in the 2012 investment announcement (1B GBP), hence the postponement of certain capacity expansion investments, but we are still ‘filling to grow’ at the long term rate.”

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