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Mattioni: Premium rums will ‘definitely develop’

The premium-plus rum segment in the UK will “definitely develop”, driven by consumer interest in quality aged spirits, Campari UK managing director Pietro Mattioni has said.

Premium-plus rums will ‘definitely develop’, says the MD of Campari UK

“A lot of competitors are betting on rum,” he told The Spirits Business when discussing the UK market in a meeting last week. “We are definitely happy and extremely honoured to have Appleton in our portfolio.”

Gruppo Campari acquired Lascelles deMercado, the Jamaican company that owns Appleton Estate and Wray & Nephew, in 2012 after attempting to buy the portfolio for 17 years, Mattioni said.

“One of the focuses since the very beginning of the distillery was to create a product that had certain similarities with the quality cues as whisky,” he continued.

The Appleton Estate brand has a strong focus on age statements, adding a 50-year-old expression to its range in 2012. At the time it was the world’s oldest commercially available rum.

“We believe rum is a segment that will definitely develop,” he stated.

Looking to gin

Mattioni also discussed Bulldog Gin, a brand distributed by Gruppo Campari and acquired by the firm for US$58.4 million earlier this month. The deal was an acceleration of a planned buyout scheduled for 2020.

“The brand is growing well, ahead of expectations,” Mattioni said. “We continue with the same plans, business as usual.”

According to Mattioni, the structure of the deal means the brand is effectively fully already integrated into the Campari business, even though the deal has yet to formally close.

“The original agreement was we get the distribution of Bulldog and the call to buy the brand at certain conditions at a certain time,” he explained. “So we already structured ourselves to play on a possible integration of the brand.

“The day the acquisition came, the business was already integrated, we already had plans, so it’s easy. And we did the work of the integration throughout the past three-to-four years; in small steps we integrated the brand.”

While Mattioni is positive about the prospects of the gin category, he did offer a caution around ‘gin fatigue’. “At this stage, I believe in certain bars and pubs and restaurants you find too many brands, which is creating confusion with customers. You have in front of you 20 brands, and you think ‘what do I order?’. You don’t have the time to look with your eyes.”

IWSR figures released in August 2016 showed that Bulldog had become the ‘fastest-growing’ premium gin brand in the world, notching up a compound annual growth rate of 34% from 2011-2015.

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