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Thursday, Feb 05, 2004

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UB expects CSD sales to boost Signature whisky

Boby Kurian

Bangalore , Feb. 4

THE UB Spirits Division (UBSPD)'s Signature Whisky, one of its strategic brands positioned in the premium end of the Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) spectrum, is poised to enter the Canteen Stores Department (CSD) channel for the armed forces.

The CSD sales account for nearly 25 per cent of the premium whisky consumption in the country, and the entry is expected to boost Signature's battle against the market leader Royal Challenge Whisky from Shaw Wallace & Co (SWC) stable.

Speaking to Business Line, Mr Vijay Rekhi, President of UBSPD, said the brand has been allowed entry into CSD channel and the move could push its sales to over three lakh cases in the next financial year, 2004-05. UBSPD comprises McDowell & Co and Herbertsons"We hope to be about 40 per cent of Royal Challenge," Mr Rekhi added. The brand has also obtained permission to foray into Tamil Nadu and it is scheduled to happen early next fiscal. "We are currently going through the formalities," Mr Rekhi said. The State holds substantial sales in the premium IMFL whisky consumption.

The estimate on the size of the premium IMFL whisky segment varies from 1.2 million cases to 1.5 million cases annually. SWC's Royal Challenge controls over 65 per cent share of the premium whisky consumption and the company claims the brand would touch one million cases for the first time in 2003-04. SWC has pegged the size of the segment at 1.5 million cases, which is tipped to be growing at 10 per cent annually. The other competing brands include Seagram's Blenders Pride and Peter Scot from Khodays.

Over the last two years, UBSPD has marshalled significant advertising and marketing resources to boost the fortunes of Signature Whisky, which has had a chequered stint since its launch in 1994. Signature is supported by the brand positioning `The New Sign Of Success' and is associated with premium lifestyle sports and events such as golf, polo and theatre besides hosting internationally acclaimed knowledge experts in the field of management and marketing. The premium whisky brand, with annual promotional budget of Rs 8-10 crore, recently unveiled a new `Icon Series' advertising campaign that recognises successful new age entrepreneurs who have created wealth by changing the rules of business.

The campaign initially features Mr Alok Kejriwal of Contest2Win and Mr Jay Galla of Amaron Batteries "as people who came from nowhere to script new corporate success stories".

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