Jagatjit Distilleries set to regain its glory days

Once a formidable Aristocrat in the liquor industry Jagatjit is now recovering its lost glory and is looking forward to a new beginning under the stewartship of Roshini Sanah Jaiswal, Promoter, Chief Restructuring Officer of Jagatjit Industries. The Jagatjit story began when Ladli Prasad Jaiswal was gramted 300 acres by Jagatjit Singh, the ruler at a small place called Hamira on the road to Amritsar. Jaiswal put up a distillery there and named it after the king: Jagatjit Industries.

The erstwhile families of L P Jaiswal and NN Mohan, who acquired the Mohan Meakin from the British founders, used to rule over the Indian liquor industry before Vittal Mallya and Manohar Rajaram Chhabria took over during the 70s and 80s.

In the early 1990s, Jagatjit Industries formed a 50/50 venture with Hiram Walker and with Brown-Forman. that too met with the same fate. These partnerships were attempts by Jagatjit Industries to go premium. But as they ended the company was left with Aristocrat, with its many variants including ACP Neat and ACP Sexy, which catered to the mass market. Its volumes slid from 12.5 million cases in 2011 to 8.5 million last year and Roshini expects it to touch 9 million cases in 2016-17.

Roshini Jaiswal’s first venture was a lounge bar called 180 Proof in Bengaluru. Bars, lounges and pubs are a tough business. With the Supreme Court ruling of not permiting bars, restaurants, liquor vends 500 kms away from highways, her liquor business if feeling the heat. Demonetization qffected the business by 25 per cent and with 25 per cent of the vends along the highway this could impact the business in the short term. The ban does not address the problem of drunken driving. By restricting sale it does not mean consumers cannot get their drinks. Drunken driving is best stopped by creating highway patrols even to the tune of 100,000 by hiring people who can revoke licenses of people who break the law of drunken driving, she advocates. In places like Dubai and the US, people don’t drink and drive because they are scared of the law. No country has such restrictions. With patrols every 10 kms this could be a deterrent. The move to make Daman a part of Gujarat is also a bad move. It will kill tourism and the nation will also be seen as regressive and irrational.

At the moment, her priority is to get a full portfolio of products and brands at premium prices. Her company has taken some steps in that direction. Thus, it has come out with Royal Pride blended (Scotch with Indian) whiskey, King Henry VIII Scotch whiskey and Clan Sinclair Single Malt. While King Henry VIII is bottled in India, Clan Sinclair is bottled in Scotland. Jaiswal has also decided to make AC Black from grain instead of molasses in order to give it a premium spin. Even our country liquor in Punjab is made using grain spirits as the ENA is of good quality and molasses is not environment friendly, she emphasizes.

As part of the restructure, Jagatjit Industries also bought in international packaging house Sedley Place UK to refresh the packaging for its popular whisky brand AC Black and ACP. In addition, the Company worked with the Inver House Distillers from Scotland to improve the blends.

In the next 8 months she hopes to break even on EBITDA which is currently negative to around 35 lakhs. It would have been positive today, if there was no demonetization, she says. We have rationalized sales in markets like Kerala. The company is working on a royalty basis. Focus is on the northern markets and the distillery which is large and functional is being revamped to meet production needs. We have also built a strong team with new people, visible changes to the packaging giving the confidence to the sales teams to easily meet their targets. With diversification, reduction of costs, and the launch of new brands in the South we should meet our targets of 35 per cent and above. With 10 per cent growth we cannot reach our target of 12.5 million cases. Wiht our brands being well received this will be a critical year. Our March 2017 turnover should be around 900 crores. We hope to infuse funds to meet our last leg of growth.

Jagatjit Industries is now a household name in the IMFL sector with a particularly strong presence in Southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, in the East across Orissa, West Bengal and Jharkhand, and across India’s North and Northeastern states.

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