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SB meets… Maurice van Vliet, Salud

The CEO of Salud Holding Group on building a hybrid distribution and duty free business.

L-r: Co-owner Lieke van Cuijk and Maurice van Vliet, CEO of Salud

What does your role at the company entail?

I am, together with Lieke van Cuijk, the business owner. I am the founder of the Salud Holding Group. It exists of wholesale distribution in Austria and Holland, and duty free retail shops in Europe.

Tell us about your company and its recent name change.

Since we have the same brand building strategy, core values and vision‐mission for both Holland and Austria, getting to one international company name was just a matter of time. In this way we can increase our international presence and increase distribution territories. Salud is a common international way to say cheers and celebrate the good moments. In our duty free stores, the word Salud is like saying ‘hi’ and ‘goodbye’, which is exactly what people do in our duty free stores: go in, purchase, and say goodbye. At some point Salud will be a brand on its own.

Which areas of the business would you like to develop?

We are changing the standard importer business into a more hybrid version. We have to create added value in the way we work and the products we import. I would like to develop the category of liqueurs, Bourbon, apéritifs, bitters, and Scotch more. We reorganised internally to be ready for a big brand, so we can offer them the focus that they don’t get at a larger distributor.

What attributes do you look for in a brand before distributing them?

The willingness to cooperate, not only looking after sales figures but understanding what it takes to follow target plans and celebrate success over time.

Which spirits are you selling the most in Austria?

Whisky and rum. In whisky, especially Glen Scotia, Loch Lomond and the Japanese whisky brands such as Chichibu and Akkeshi. In rum, AH Riise Navy rum is going well. Vodka is still going strong with Crystal Head vodka.

Which spirits trends are you noticing?

It’s all about creativity. Crystal Head Pride Edition or a Stauning whisky bottling that you can personalise yourself. Our yearly single cask releases in both countries are very successful. People are willing to spend money on something unique.

What is in the pipeline for the year ahead?

The Spirit of Salud project will be officially launched in May during our Salud event in Holland. It starts with a mini tasting box, and follows later to 700ml bottles. We have a tasting box of gin, whisky, rum and ready-to‐drink cocktails; all based on our exclusive import brands we are distributing in Holland and Austria.

The brands that are in these boxes are: Stauning, Starward, Chichibu, Loch Lomond, and Crystal Head Vodka. Our Chichibu 7 Gods of Fortune Japanese single malt whisky will be launched in August, and the last Chichibu cask this year will launch in December.

Years ago we started with the Chichibu Intergalactic series. This is a Japanese single malt whisky that was so popular that we launched edition one to six spread over three years (two casks each year). People flew over from all over the world to attend our Chichibu Intergalactic masterclasses – we received more than 100 emails daily from people all over the world that showed interest in buying a bottle.

After the first six editions we decided to stop the Intergalactic series and start a new series called 7 Gods of Fortune. We teamed up every release with a well‐known artist that designs the label and gift box. The 7 Gods of Fortune is designed by Warbb, a digital design artist that just launched one of his designs at Times Square in New York.

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