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Wednesday, Apr 07, 2004

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Kyndal India claims `Absolut' leadership over rival vodkas

Boby Kurian

Bangalore , April 6

KYNDAL India Ltd, the fully-owned subsidiary of Whyte & Mackay, claims the launch of Absolut vodka has met with encouraging response as it now outsells other imported premium vodkas 3:1 in Mumbai, the brand's first retail market in the country.

Almost five months after the launch, Absolut, priced at Rs 1,450 (750 ml), is steadily expanding its retail universe in the country's largest metropolis. "The premium retail outlets for spirits in Mumbai is around 100. Absolut is present in 50 of them and will shortly reach all the shops," Mr Siddharth Banerji, Regional Director, Kyndal India, said.

Absolut's retail plans are targeted at shops with potential to sell liquor priced above Rs 1,000. Kyndal, which was the first multinational liquor company to start trading operations in the country, represents the interests of global spirits entities such as the Vin & Sprit (V&S) group and Jim Beam Brands, apart from Whyte & Mackay itself.

"Absolut currently outsells all other premium imported vodkas, such as Stolichnaya, Finlandia or Smirnoff Black, at 3:1 ratio in Mumbai. We didn't look for exponential sales and did not resort to dumping the product to face a liquidation problem later," Mr Banerji said, while not disclosing the sales figures.

He added that the company was planning to hike the price of Absolut in the duty free channel in a bid to check grey market sales. Kyndal also sells Absolut through the institutional channel in Delhi where it covers over 150 points.

Absolut, from the stable of the Swedish State-owned V&S, is the second-largest selling vodka in the world behind Diageo's Smirnoff.

Mr Banerji said the pricing of Abolut was fairly well received in Mumbai and the brand was now looking to connect more with the consumer through stylising select upmarket bars.This is dubbed as an effort to "make the consumer feel Absolut's personality and not a loud branding experience for one of the iconic brands in the global drinks industry."

Kyndal plans to extend Absolut to Bangalore and Kolkata in the coming months. The company official said the Bangalore launch would take place anytime after elections in April to prevent any possible loss in the share of voice.

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