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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

Officer's Choice unseats Mallya's McDowell's from top slot

PTI  Mumbai, July 15, 2012
First Published: 17:12 IST(15/7/2012) | Last Updated: 17:19 IST(15/7/2012)

The bad times that Vijay Mallya is going through with his airline have spilled onto his staple spirits business with his UB Group now losing the crown as the owners of the world's largest selling whisky brand McDowell's to bête noire Kishore Chhabria's Officer's Choice.

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The McDowell's whisky, after reigning as the world leader for many years, has now been relegated to a distant third position.

According to a July report from the globally renowned trade magazine International Wine & Spirits Research (IWSR), the Officer's Choice whisky, from the house of Kishore Chhabria-held Allied Blenders & Distillers (ABD) is the world's largest selling whisky with a volume sale of 17.10 million cases in 2011.

With this, McDowell's from the UB stable is down to No 3 slot selling 16.39 million cases in 2011.

This makes Officer's Choice the world's eighth largest spirits brand and McDowell's the 10th largest.

"Yes, our Officer's Choice is the world's largest selling whisky brand today, according to the latest IWSR data.

Considering our short history, this is a fete and going forward, we hope to maintain our lead," ABD vice-chairman and
chief executive Deepak Roy told PTI over the weekend here.

This also makes the Officer's Choice the world's eighth largest spirits brand, just behind the renowned Bacardi Rum from Bacardi-Martini, Roy said quoting the IWSR numbers.

Meanwhile, the world's No 1 spirits brand is the Jinro from the Korean beer major Hite Brewery, with 64.59 million cases in 2011. The Jinro is called Shochu/Soju in Korea and is comparable to vodka.

The world's No 2 whisky brand is the Johnnie Walker from the house of Diageo with 16.68 million cases.

However, still the UB Group has five of the top 20 spirits brand in the world with the Bagpiper whisky (at No 11 with 16.03 million cases), Celebration rum (13th position with 15.4 million cases), McDowell's brandy (15th position with 13.25  million cases), and the Old Tavern whisky at the 18th slot with 11.30 million cases, according to IWSR data.

Notably, UB Group's Kingfisher Airlines has been facing fund crunch and near bankruptcy, and has fallen from the No 2 airline in the country to the lowest in terms of market share, with under 5 percent last month.

For the past seven months, Kingfisher Airlines, launched in May 2005 as a five-star airline, has not made a single penny in profits and has been unable to pay salaries to its staff and apart from defaulting on all its bills.

Interestingly, Roy, who holds 5 percent in ABD, was the Man Friday for Mallya for a decade from 1983 to 1993, when he was poached by Diageo and made him Diageo India chief executive.

During his stint at the UB Group, the spirits veteran Roy handled various marketing and management positions in McDowell's and Herbertsons.

He spearheaded Triumph Distillers & Vintners, a UB umbrella firm and the manufacturers of Gilbey's Green Label. In just 10 years, he was not only instrumental in growing 2 'millionaire' brands for UB, but also helped revive the other brands.

In December 2002, Roy had led a management buyout by acquiring Diageo India's whisky business and successfully sold it at four-times premium in just over two years.

Currently, ABD is the third-largest spirits company in the country with volumes of 18 million cases in FY12.


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