Loch Lomond boosts ASPAC with distribution deals

2nd May, 2017 by Kristiane Sherry

UK-based spirits producer Loch Lomond Group has secured a China distribution agreement with COFCO and a travel retail deal with MG Cellars across Asia Pacific as it seeks to bolster its Scotch whisky presence in the region.

Loch Lomond Group’s operations director Bill White with Castle Li, general manager at COFCO

Through the deal with COFCO, China’s agriculture and food and beverage giant, Loch Lomond Group’s full range of Scotch whiskies made available in China for the first time.

The portfolio will the sold through COFCO’s 1,000-strong sub-distributor network and through its own store footprint, with the agreement covering every region of China.

With the deal, China becomes ones of Loch Lomond Group’s key export markets.

“We’re very excited about our new partnership with COFCO across the fast-growing Chinese market,” said Colin Matthews, chief executive of the Loch Lomond Group.

“COFCO is a very ambitious, energetic and innovative organisation with a great team and exciting plans for the future which match our own aspirations both for China and as a group.

“The heritage, authenticity and provenance of our brands have proven to be attractive for consumers in China and around the world, who appreciate what our brands represent, as they seek out true authenticity, history, craftsmanship and innovation to find something unique.

“Our diverse portfolio ensures that we have a range of whiskies that appeal across the full range of tastes and budgets which are perfect for this emerging and important market.”

Castle Li, general manager of COFCO’s wine and spirits division, and his team visited Loch Lomond Group’s malt and grain distilleries in Alexandria and the Glen Scotia distillery in Campbeltown.

“COFCO are determined to use all of our resources, energy and route to market strengths to succeed in bringing the Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia Scotch Whisky portfolios to the Chinese market and its many millions of consumers,” Li said.

“Visiting the distilleries in Alexandria and Campbeltown has further reinforced our confidence and excitement in being able to bring the Loch Lomond brands to the Chinese market, where we look forward to having some great success. Seeing the versatility of the distillation techniques and the exceptional craft at the Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia distilleries was a highlight of our trip to Scotland.”

The deal comes as part of COFCO’s ambition to become the top imported spirits distributor in China.

Li continued: “We believe that the Loch Lomond Group’s brands will have major appeal to a wide spectrum of consumers in China where we are seeing significant growth in demand for premium drinks brands especially Scotch whisky.”

COFCO launched Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia single malts and grains to the Chinese market at the recent Chengdu Food and Drinks Fair, and now High Commissioner blended Scotch and Littlemill single malt are now also available in the market.

Asia travel retail boost

In related news, Loch Lomond has appointed MG Cellars as its exclusive travel retail distributor across Asia Pacific.

MG Cellars was founded in 1997 and today represents more than 10 wine and spirits brands across 45 counries through four regional offices and a Hong Kong bonded warehouse.

President Kathleen Gentzbourger, regional director, Priscilla Chan, and regional sales manager Kelvin Ng will head up the Loch Lomond expansion in the market.

“For the ASPAC liquor category, brown spirits, and particularly the single malt expression, is the largest trending growth driver,” said Gentzbourger.

“Our valued partners in the retail industry are looking for new offerings to address this demand and our aim is offer a complete portfolio with quality and differentiation at the forefront. The Loch Lomond Group’s approach to travel retail with a focused TR specific portfolio and its Highlands and Campbeltown heritage aligns our two companies’ goal of bringing unique and authentic experiences to the traveling customers.

“We are honoured to be chosen as the exclusive distributor for Loch Lomond Group for Travel Retail business in Asia Pacific and look forward to working with Andre de Almeida, Managing Director for Global Travel Retail at Loch Lomond Group.”

De Almeida added: “The Scotch whisky category and in particular single malts are still a huge opportunity in the travel retail market, especially given the significant growth trend in the Asia Pacific region.

“MG Cellars and its team has strong expertise in the travel retail sector, and I believe this will be a great asset for us to build the business and our brands in the region.”

According to COFCO figures, sales of imported spirits to Chinese consumers are expected to grow significantly as the country’s middle class becomes more and more affluent.

Last year the imported spirits market in China grew by nearly 4.5% year on year, with whisky sales alone up 12-fold over the past decade.

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