Tag Archives: Alcobev

Churchgate just got Foo-ed!!

As legacy remains a witness, we realise that the famous Kamling has lived to be the most iconic Chinese restaurants throughout the ages. Inheriting their forefathers’ culinary versatility, Ryan and Keenan Tham, once again return, not only to ‘restore’ Kamling’s grandeur, but instead ‘evolve and expand’ its wings towards Asian Tapas dining by launching their newest property Foo Town.

Sited amongst the whirl of Churchgate, Foo Town is established where Kamling used to be – like an offspring born out of the mother’s womb. Since the Tham family has been revered for their warm hospitality experience, Mumbai’s first new age Asian Tapas restaurant also embraces this heirloom with a splendid 80-90 seating expanse. With outside seating as well, the restaurant welcomes its guests with a light caress of the green foliage that spreads above, outside as well as inside – a view seldom found.

There is awe in the air as we perceive that Foo Town is an extension of Foo Phoenix, yet diverging from it with 20 new dishes, including the Kamling Classics. Heritage remains intact as Foo Town serves the scrumptious Kamling Hakka Chicken and the delicieux whole Pomfret, along with the rich Kamling Peking Fish.

The ‘Tapas Touch’ of the restaurant is well inaugurated with the Foo Asian Burrata, a modern asian salad containing burrata and quinoa, crowned with romaine lettuce with a dash of avocado smears. The Po-Po gives us the Belgium pork with Pomelo, crafted with kafir and lemongrass, topped with peanuts and cherry tomatoes. Boasting an All- Day dining menu, Foo Town promises a prominent taste, with the splendour of its Small Plates like the lavish Japanese Vegetable Tempura with a Wasabi Mayo Dip or the Crispy Snapper glazed with a Black Bean Sauce.

Introducing the Vegan Sushi dish, The ‘Foo Vegan’ Maki provides flavours of black rice, with a dash of avocado and Thai chillies, garnished with yam beans, guacamole and miso paste. The nourishing and wholesome Steamed Foo Baskets guides one through the gourmet realms of great health and nutrition, stretching from the Edamame and Pod; the Prawns topped with Pixian sauce and the lightly cooked Super Foo Salad. The Foo Sticky Rice with Lotus leaf contains a variation for the non-vegetarians with a dash of chicken, while the Sweet Potato sided with black bean sauce gives out a creamy escapade.

The newly added Broccoli dumpling bursts into flavours, as the Spicy Tofu dumplings tingle taste buds. Also, first time in Mumbai, the audience will be amused to find the splendid Chocolate and Marshmallow Sushi Roll, on the dessert menu, right next to The Yuzu Orange Cream Caramel promises to create fascination just as the rest of the menu does.

Foo Town serves us with an indulgence of brilliant cocktails by inhouse mixologist Dimitri Lezinska, with the menu quartered into four intuitive portions. The Foo Tails hails the menu with the Absolut blended Foo King and Foo Queen, followed by Miso Sour and the discerning Gateway Pavillion. As Gin remains the vogue of the era, the menu then presents the Gin Tails – a luscious collection of Gin blends like the Spanish G&T and Foo By The Bay. The sparkle and shimmer of the drink is well displayed by the High Tails collection, where the tall glasses clink to smooth down the Marine Drive Mule and the Fountain Road Cooler. And the menu’s hindmost category remains the Wine Tails – a sombre assemblage of Sangrias from around the globe.

The Tham Family, yet again with Foo Town, presents to us a plethora of the greatest Fine Dining Asian culinary experience along with an inherited aura of warmth and hospitality to perch not only onto our food palates, but also our hearts.

Thirsty City 127 opens bar in the city from the prohibition era

REMO offers a drinking experience of bygone prohibition era.


Prohibition era is just a memory but the thrill of the forbidden fruit still has its very own magic. Bringing back an era of subterfuge and smokescreens is a speakeasy Remo, an overground bar named and modelled on the original, where Remo returns with his magical potions of flavours, herbs, botanicals and alcohol. Mixes and con-coctions he had gathered in his wide spread travels across the world.

Its not going to be easy to find Remo. You’ll need friends in “high places” because entry is by invitation only. Secret knocks and frequently changed passwords will keep in regulars and block out all CI’s eyes and snitchers.

It was the gravest of times right in the middle of the darkest era in t he city’s history. Prohibition was in full force in Bombay Presidency, and it’s capital, the feisty big little port city of Bombay bore the brunt of this the worst. Unable to control the menace with just the corrupt police forces, who were generally sympathetic to the cause of the tipplers, the administration engaged private militias of moral police who cracked down on the remaining revellers with puritanical fury.

A pall of gloom had descended upon this beautiful town by the ‘Bay’. But as we know, the night is always darkest before the dawn. And it is at this point of the story, we present our protagonist, the swashbuckling hero, who saves the day.

Remo grew up in Cuncolim in Portuguese Goa, the independent territory to the south of Bombay Presidency, where the days were easy, the living was good and the evenings were merry. Still, Remo dreamed of a more glamorous life and he set out to make his fortune and see the world. He left Cuncolim, to work on board a cargo ship, and he travelled all over the world, especially the Orient. There he discovered the dark arts of combining flavours and liquors and making exotic, magical potions that lit up the night.

Remo’s adventures eventually brought him to Bombay, and he was booked by the beguiling charms of the deacadent denizens of the city. He got a job as a supervisor in the loading depot of a cloth mill. Remo led a dual life. In the day he toiled hard at the mill. But at night he cleaned up well and became a part of the social set that mattered.

And then Prohibition was declared! The night that previously never ended, now just never happened. The days wore on, and misery reeked from the very pores of this classically beautiful Art Deco city.

No, this isn’t your regular, cookie cutter fairytale. Our hero wasn’t blonde, and he didn’t ride a white horse. Our hero’s handsome face was a burnished brown and he rode into town on a large coastal barge! Remo had thought through it all – the barge had ostensibly taken exports of bolts of cloth to Goa, but it was the secret cargo under the hold on its return that was the cunning plan. Bottles upon bottles of desperately needed alcohol, and also, herbs, fruits, botanicals – all kinds of exciting ingredients.

There is the open storage yard, on the roof of the mill, Remo set it up under the stars – hidden, yet quite in the plain sight – the most daring speakeasy bar. He dug deep into the reservoirs of his memories and recreated all the magical potions he had encountered on the travels. Remo’s was truly a go-send for the Thirsty of the City, and they left their sea-side mansions, and travelled deep into its innards, to an neighbourhood they never had been to, and sat under the stars, and restarted the night.

60 years on, NJM builds his Legion

It has been a long innings for N. J. Menon, here he shares the high points of his career. He has now formed a new company NJM Blends.

NJM, as he’s known amongst his friends, has six decades of experience in the Indian Alcohol industry and can undoubtedly be touted as one of the change-makers in the business.

N. Janardana Menon began his career as a chemist in 1959, at the first McDowell & Co. Distillery in Shertallay, Kerala. His unique technical acumen saw him rise to the rank of Unit Head. Subsequently, he became the Technical Director of the UB Group Spirits Division in 1977.

Armed with a sensory superiority that is a privilege of only a chosen few, he moved to Bangalore in 1988 as Vice President-Technical of the UB Group. Here, NJM successfully set up a world-class Technical Centre with CSIR recognition for Chemical & Sensory Analysis, Quality control, Product Development, Training and R&D facilities. He was also instrumental in formulating a Quality Control manual for the Distillery division of the Group. Perfection, precision and passion are among a few of the key attributes that that has truly shaped NJ Menon’s journey. In addition to the years of invaluable experience, training and learning through collaborations from around the world, NJM has amassed an unparalleled knowledge of brewing technology and blending craftsmanship. This exposure has allowed him to evolve his palate, producing unique blends for the Indian and international market.

McDowell’s Single Malt, McDowell’s No 1, Bagpiper, Diplomat, Signature, Gold Riband, Caesar Brandy, Honey Bee brandy, Celebration Rum, Old Cask Rum, Royal Treasure White Rum, Blue Riband Gin Duets and Romanov Vodka are just a few of the 300+ blends that NJM has developed during his career. He was also associated with the development of Black Dog 12 Year Scotch Whisky.

One of India’s most prolific and acknowledged blenders, NJ Menon also holds the unique distinction of having a model installation of his hands at the office of United Spirits, Bangalore.

After a successful tenure, NJM retired as Executive Vice President – Technical of the Spirits division in 1999, but continued as Technical Advisor to the UB Group till 2013.

But retirement only meant the beginning of a new chapter.

While working as a technical consultant to several distilleries, flavour companies and engineering firms, actively engaging in the development of blends, flavours, setting up of malt spirit plants and maturation facilities, he felt the need to do more. Having developed specialty products for clients, the time felt right for NJM to create his own legacy.

Thus, begins the story of Legion.

In September 2018, at the age of 82, Menon registered his flagship enterprise- NJM Blends, a labour of passion and perseverance. The first step towards the journey to create his legacy, the company released its first product in February 2019, a premium blended whisky named Legion. “After retirement in 1999, as a consultant, I developed a number of brands for various companies. Few of them became very popular and have now sold over a million cases. As a result, I was sought after by IMFL manufacturers.”

“This got me thinking – I should have a brand of my own with my name associated with it. I wanted the product to be superior to any existing Indian made whisky and comparable to some of the Indian bottled Scotch whiskeys. Legion is the outcome of my ambition,” explains master blender, NJ Menon.

Why Legion?

“Only a select few deserve a Legion”, reads the product label, and this couldn’t ring truer of the eponymous brand and its brand ambassador. A premium blend that is poised to raise the bar in the Indian liquor industry, Legion promises to be a sensory delight with delicate floral hints, hints of sweet cinnamon and an earthy peat finish.

Legion by NJM Blends is a story of pure passion, expertise and toil. A testament to Menon’s love for the art of blending and his indefatigable ‘spirit’, Legion marks his step into the spotlight.

It is, therefore, only fitting to raise our glasses to the true legend and to us, his ever-faithful Legion.

N. J. Menon makes dreams a reality

Dreams can be achieved if you only continue to believe and strive to make them your reality. This has never been exemplified more than with the life of master blender N. J. Menon.

What are some of the key achievements in your career?

Over a career spanning 60+ years, I have created numerous blends for most of the leading Distillers and bottlers for domestic and export markets, including some of the most popular brands which have gone on to become “millionaires”. As a blender, when a blend meets the customers’ taste preferences and the same is reflected through the sales volumes, it is highly satisfying.

I was instrumental in the development of Gin ‘Duets’ and flavoured vodkas for the first time in India.

During my years with the industry, I have led projects for set up and commission of Malt spirt manufacturing and maturation facilities, too.

In addition, there are quite a few “key” achievements which are close to my heart. Undoubtedly, setting up the Technical Centre for UB’s Spirits Division in 1988 would be one of the biggest – the centre was recognised and appreciated by CSIR for Chemical & Sensory Analysis, QC, Product development and R&D facilities. I was also actively associated with BIS in setting up of Standards for Alcoholic beverages. Leading the team which developed India’s first Single Malt – McDowell’s Single Malt Whisky – was another achievement I am really proud of.

What were the challenges to make the transition to entrepreneurship?

Since my retirement, I have continued as a technical consultant for various liquor manufacturers in India. While consulting cannot be compared to entrepreneurship in its true sense, there was always a desire to launch a portfolio of my own brands. A key challenge was to identify a production partner who will be with us for the long term, and we made progress towards that end in early 2018.

Once we got that out of the way, the finer details needed to be addressed: identifying the right agency for designing the packaging, and vendor partners for sourcing the packaging material, marketing communication, etc. For a person like me who has always focussed on the technical aspects of a product, these were interesting challenges to overcome.

The other challenge of course is finance, since we are currently running on our own steam, though many well-wishers have indicated their interest in providing funds for the venture.

Do you feel you have sufficient experience to take the brand and the company forward?

Absolutely, I wouldn’t have ventured into it if I did not feel confident about it. As far as products are concerned, my experience of knowing the Indian consumers’ taste, even as it changed over the years, will be a great advantage. Moreover, we see the Indian customer is now willing to experiment (and here I am not referring to liquor industry alone) and you cannot get a better time to launch a new product.

How is your product different from those in the market place especially in terms of quality, taste, colour which are your key strengths?

Legion Premium Whisky is an exceptionally balanced blend of Highland and Islay Malts and the taste is not something you will find in any of the regular Indian whiskies. We were clear we wanted to create a product for the discerning consumer, and the initial feedback has been extremely positive. If you talk of the colour, too, Legion stands out with a strong golden-brown hue which is often seen only in leading Scotch brands.

What are your immediate goals for the company?

We would like to establish Legion Premium Whisky as the best in segment blended whisky in the country. Currently we are now in Goa, and before the end of the financial year we would like to roll it out to couple of other key markets too.

Do you see your branching into other segments of IMFL like Rum, Brandy, Vodka and Gin?

Well, the obvious answer is ‘yes’. However, we would like to take it slowly and look at a few niche segments and therefore we will not be looking at a spectrum of products for the immediate future.

Are you looking at a pan India distribution?

Yes, absolutely. Again, we want to play it step-by-step and make sure we do justice in the markets we step into.

SCAM: Be Honest. Drink it. Don’t do it.

Launched in Chandigarh, the promoters of SCAM Beer are confident of its success.

Trying to create its own path, SCAM would like to create an unique beer brand and would like to achieve its ultimate goal of spreading excitement and positivity around the brand. In an industry dominated by major multinationals brands, SCAM seeks to create a niche for itself.

The vision of this refreshingly modern brand is backed up by the team behind it. Sugliq Global Pvt. Ltd. is promoted by Chairman Sanjay Lamba with other three Directors Paramjit Singh, Amardeep Singh and Baljinder Kashyap, who are trailblazers in their fields and form the backbone of SCAM, bringing forward a breathtaking new experience through it.

The promoters also shared some interesting figures related to beer consumption in North Indian states. While Punjab has 40 lac cases consumption per annum, Haryana consumes 100 lac cases every year. Chandigarh with 12 lac cases per annum is growing . Delhi has a consumption of 150 Lac Cases every year and HP 12 lac cases per annum. These states are growing at around 15% per annum.

We spoke to the management in detail. Excerpts of the interview.

What is the rationale behind the launch of SCAM?

Sanjay Lamba: Through the creation and launch of SCAM we are bringing something to the market which hasn’t been done before. We wanted to break the generic and monotonous ideas. And by thinking outside the box, the concept behind SCAM was born. The product is refreshing modern and unique in its content, in terms of taste and design. It holds so much character and depth which caters to the consumer who wants something more than a run-of-the-mill. SCAM does just that and raises the bar with its brilliant concept, proving the consumer with a stellar product.

How do you plan to leverage the positives behind the name, the all caps and the can design?

Sanjay Lamba: Every single design motif was carefully curated for SCAM. Every element represents and voices something about what the brand stands for and what it brings to the table. The name, SCAM in itself is multilayered. We wanted to reappropriate the term and make it unique to ourselves and redefine what it stands for. We extracted the rebellious and curious elements from it and showcased it through SCAM. It’s is now symbolic for rebellious side that exists in all of us along with honesty, creating the perfect balance and harmony.

The designs on the can echo that sentiment and ideology. It features the logo written in graffiti spray-painted font, an act of rebellion. The raising of the hands are symbolic of the youth generation uniting together for a single cause, their strength in numbers and unique personalities. Above all, by having SCAM in all caps, we want this message to reach the masses loud and clear for all to hear.

Do you own your brewery? What is your production capacity? Do you plan to have bottle packaging in 650ml and 330ml size?

Amardeep Singh: We have outsourced the production capacity and availability of capacity shall not be an issue. We shall be launching bottles in the sizes of 330ml and 650ml very soon. What is your pricing strategy for SCAM beer? Paramjit Singh: We are pricing SCAM in the premium segment. Our priority shall be to build consumer franchise through aspirational marketing and build volume on a strong foundation.

Which states do you plan to launch SCAM and is there a timeframe for an All India launch?

Baljinder Kashya: We have already launched in the states of Punjab and Haryana and shall be launching in Chandigarh, UP and Delhi very soon. Our plans are to have a national presence in 2 years time.

What is your impressions of the Indian beer market and what kind of market share are you targetting?

Paramjit Singh: The states, we are targetting in the beginning, are short of supplies and always demand driven. There is always a consumer for quality product. Our first priority is to connect with our target audience and bridge the gap between demand and supply. Market share is just a number. We believe in chasing value and not volume alone.

What is your target audience? Have you plans to broad base your target audience?

Sanjay Lamba : Our target audience are the ones who don’t believe in doing scam but drinking it. They are the ones who don’t want to follow the status quo and aren’t afraid of make their own paths and journeys. They are the trendsetters and influencers, wanting to make a positive impact on the world around them. They radiate exuberance everywhere they go, which makes SCAM, curious and bubbly the perfect companion.

Amara Breweries – Broadening its horizons

In what is seen as a a partnership that formed Amara Breweries, the newly registered company is making an impact in the growing Indian Alcobev Industry.

  When two come together with one vision and one purpose, the results are often surprising to the world. Amara Breweries is a result of one such partnership between Mr. Arvind Singla of the Singla Group and Mr. Hirdesh Chopra, one of the respected and experienced professionals from the liquor industry. The latest entrant into the Indian liquor industry, Amara was incorporated in June 2019 as the newest member of the Singla Group. Based out of Chandigarh, Amara is quickly making its presence felt in the Indian liquor industry.

The Singla Group was amongst the earliest pioneers in the Indian alcohol industry. From humble beginnings in pre-independence India, the Group today boasts of a rich legacy and heritage that only a handful of business houses can claim. With an operational history dating back over 70 years, the Group has not just kept pace with the changing times, but has moved smartly .

Today, the Singla Group comprises of three IMFL bottling units, 15 wholesale and over 800 retail vends across Punjab and Chandigarh. At the helm of the business is Mr. Arvind Singla, the Group’s leading light and current Managing Director says the Singla Group’s total turnover is to the tune of approx. `1500 crores and apart from liquor, the Group’s varied business interests include hospitality, mining and C&F for multinational B.I.O.

Mr. Arvind Singla has ambitious plans for the Singla Group. He actively runs his decades old family business with a keen eye on future growth. A man of few words, he says the secret to his success is to work hard and an open mind to the changing business environment, markets, and consumers that help him take the best decisions for his company. Mr Singla admits his strength lies in prudent financial planning, treasury management, compliance and internal controls.

“We have seen the business evolve and change over the years. As it has changed, we have adapted with it. We rapidly implement reforms inside and outside the Group. We are cognizant that ultimately, the customer is the king. Our policies as a company have always evolved to work for the highest benefit of our consumers. And we have done this with our heads held high and an unwavering commitment to grow and expand the business,” says Singla

A quick look at Mr. Hirdesh Chopra’s credentials reveal an impressive professional background. For more than 30 years, he has held prestigious leadership positions at India’s top IMFL companies. Amara Breweries is well on its way to realise the lofty ambitions it has set for itself.

“Amara Breweries is the newest entrant in the Indian liquor industry. But the standards we have set for ourselves are at par or even better than leading international brands. In all areas of our operations, we will lead with industry’s best practises, be it in manufacturing, sourcing, product consistency and quality, packaging, distribution or marketing, Amara Breweries aims to be the best amongst the best,” says Mr. Hirdesh Chopra, Director, Amara Breweries.

Rise of the next generation

The stalwarts may hold the reins to the fortunes of Amara Breweries, but the next generation is not far behind. Mr. Hirdesh Chopra firmly believes in grooming and nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs to take their vision forward. One of the young stars in Amara’s management is Mr. Ish Chopra, an architect by training, and in the liquor business by passion. Despite being new to the industry, Ish says he has gained insights into the liquor business, from his father Mr. Hirdesh Chopra’s long experience in the liquor industry.

“I think the trend to create and market beers in niche variants has been well accepted in india. However, one should not ignore the opportunity to produce and promote a balanced, well-carbonated, high quality and interestingly packaged beer for the mass markets.” Ish Chopra, Head, Business Development, Amara Breweries.

Ish adds that the gradual shift towards modest drinking amongst all age groups and a social, healthier lifestyle will prove a boost to the beer industry. The industry is currently growing at a healthy double digit rate in India. Ish has set ambitious goals for the future of his products. He believes that even though these goals seem lofty, they are very much achievable with the right strategy, planning, and flawless execution of that strategy.

This is amongst the biggest state-of-the-art bottling plants in India today with a current capacity of eight lakh cases per month of bottled and canned beer, with an extended capacity of 12 Lakh cases per month. Set up with the latest brewing, processing and bottling machinery from Germany and Italy.

Ginsberg – The Premium Strong Beer

The brand is currently being brewed and shipped out from Amara’s first brewery. Going by the name of Ginsberg, this strong yet smooth beer is produced using 100% Argentinian 2 Row Malts and the finest imported hops and yeasts from Europe. Amara claims that Ginsberg is the smoothest beer in the strong beer category in its price range.

Not just in production, Ginsberg will be aggressively marketed as well. The brand is drawing up plans to establish an imposing presence in the pubs and bars segment with kegs and draught beer product extensions. Currently available in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and U.P., Ginsberg will be available all over north India within the next 6 months have a pan India presence within 1 year. After establishing a national presence, Ginsberg plans to export to international markets as well. The company says that talks are already underway in key markets like the US, Europe and Australia.

Closer at home, Ginsberg will soon announce a known face from Bollywood as a Brand Ambassador to help its marketing efforts. The brand is already active on Social Media and will be rolling out a pan India marketing initiative in the very near future.

 

In an interview Mr. Arvind Singla, provides deep insights about the company’s game plan.

What was the rationale behind the company’s brewery project? What is the overall project cost?

Beer is one of the largest consumer categories in India around $7 billion in market size. It is also one of the fastest growing consumer categories, growing at double digit CAGR for the last 10 years.

People are shifting to modest drinking and beer being one of the most recession resilient industries in the market, with market growing at a pace of 10-12% each year in India.

Considering the large consumer base and the modest consumption of 5 litre per capita compared to regional average of 20.9 litre and 110 litres in developed countries, we look at the huge scope in the growth of beer across India with a big chunk of young population with high disposable income. Considering this, we are confident, so we have planned to set up a world class brewery.

Mr. Arvind Singla and Mr. Hirdesh Chopra



What are the important features of your greenfield project brewery?

Strategic location- within the heart of Punjab: 25 kms from Haryana; 45 kms Chandigarh; 200 kms from Delhi/UP and Rajasthan, 150 km from Uttrakhand and 75kms from Himachal Pradesh. This will make logistics cost very economical.

As the brewing industry is a heavy water consumption industry and the country is facing the ground water shortages across the nation, we are the only company using canal water, which is supposed to be the purest form of water source for any type of liquor with permission from the Punjab government. The water is coming from uphills, having a lot of minerals and the canal is full of water across the year.

What is the capacity of the brewery and what are the expansion plans for the future? Will excess capacity be offered for contract manufacturing?

Current capacity is 0.8 million cases per annum. Expansion is possible upto 1.3 million cases per annum as per existing design plan. Yes, we already are in talks with multi nationals for tie ups for current capacity and future capacity

Which states do you plan to initially distribute your brands? When do you plan to go pan India?

We have opened markets for Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh and we plan to open markets for Delhi and Rajasthan soon. We aim to go Pan India in the financial year 2020-21.

What are the major features that will make your product stand out in the crowded market place?

In times of craft beers and light beers buzzing the market and being promoted tremendously well, somewhere the original identity of a rich in taste and a smooth STRONG BEER was lost.

Through our brands Ginsberg and Hophead, we plan to revolutionise the industry with a strong beer which is as smooth possible.The product is also reasonably priced.

Strong beer still has the biggest share in the country as compared to its other variants.

Ish Chopra



What are your immediate targets for your beer brands and what marketing initiatives have you lined-up to meet your targets?

Immediate targets are to make our brand establish itself in the market and prove the industry that we are here to last long.

This is only possible by using best quality raw material to ensure smoothness in a strong variant that our consumers will like. We are importing two row barley from Argentina.

We have hired one of the best and biggest marketing agency for our promotions and branding and that will be visible both online and offline in the next one month in all states where we are operational.

Do you plan to have a strong beer, canned beer and any plans for craft beers?

We are already producing strong beer in two variants Ginsberg and Hophead which are creating a boom in the market.

We also plan to introduce a lighter craft beer segment in late October. We have huge plans for the latter product which I hope to share when it is really close to launch.

What major challenges do you foresee in the beer industry?

We are new in the brewery business, but not new in the alcobev industry. Our philosophy and understanding of the market is that the consumer should get the right product at the right price. Our belief is that the consumer deserves the best of every penny he/she spends for the product.

Also considering the market trend, if we talk state wise, there is a shortfall in supply of beer in the season time and hence we believe with our future expansion prospects, not only in the state of Punjab, but across the nation and overseas, we would overcome this challenge in the years to come.

Beer being a volume game, will you plan for a brewery elsewhere in India?

Yes, as we plan to open markets down South, West and East, where we would be going both for our own plants and bottling arrangements in the respective states.

The Impact of E-commerce on Alcohol Trading

IWSR research indicates that 1.8% of the value of all global beverage alcohol is now Sold through E-commerce

Like others, the drinks industry has recognized what a critical medium the digital environment is to interact with consumers, inform them, learn from them and ultimately to sell to them. Regulation has made the online retailing of alcohol more complicated than other sectors and this has stifled development, but this is changing.

IWSR Drinks Market Analysis’ global database now captures just how effective drinks players have been at selling digitally. Although variances inevitably exist between markets, the results for 2018 show that 1.8% of the value of all alcoholic drinks traded around the globe is now sold through e-commerce.

It is wine that has best harnessed the selling power of the online retail environment. Last year as much as 3.6% of all wine value sales stemmed from e-commerce outlets, a figure that translates into nearly US$8bn of sales.

The rapid expansion of wine sales online has even threatened the viability of independent “bricks and mortar” wine stores in the UK. Online wine sales in the country have reached 6.5% of total sales value, prompting one leading wine retailer, Majestic, to announce that they are to sell off much of their retail estate to concentrate on their online business, Naked Wines.

The extensive number of wine producers and the diversity of choice has meant that a culture of experimentation has always existed within the wine sector. The online environment has proved to be well placed to service wine drinkers’ curiosity and to educate and inform consumption choices. The dramatic expansion of online wine marketplaces like Vivino, which after just nine years of trading now claims to have 10 million different wines and as many as 35 million users, has illustrated just how compatible wine selling is within the digital space. Sales of spirits through e-commerce may not be as pronounced as wine, but IWSR research shows that around US$6.5b of spirits were sold online in 2018, a figure that represents 2% of all global spirits’ value sales. For example, ecommerce is reported to now be Pernod Ricard’s fastest growing channel.

Direct selling on owned online platforms has proved less effective for spirits operators than partnerships or acquisitions with established online retailers and delivery services, perhaps because it compromised choice to exclusively sell their own brands. The recent trend has been for operators to partner with existing online platforms to maximise exposure and to showcase their brands from a different angle to consumers.

The development of the online marketplace is happening at different speeds with drinkers in some markets quicker to adopt new purchasing practices and habits than others. The reported 800m Chinese internet users have been quick to embrace the advent of e-commerce. The explosion in smart phone use, social media apps and mobile e-commerce has facilitated this shift in buying habits and meant that 6.5% of off-premise sales of all alcoholic drinks are now ordered online in China.

The e-commerce channel has proved particularly popular for wine sales in China. Encouraged by fierce competition, which has ensured low prices and fast delivery, online sales now account for 9% of sales value – that is a fifth of all off-premise wine sales, as well as online spirits sales of almost 4%.

Even in markets like China where e-commerce penetration is already comparatively high, it can be assumed that the e-commerce channel will continue to take share from “bricks and mortar” retail. The development of the channel will be fuelled by convenience, competitive pricing, a quickening speed of delivery and by rising digital competence.

The shift to digital platforms will change the alcoholic drinks landscape forever, providing a marketplace for a plethora of brands and concepts that are no longer reliant on winning shelf space from a few major retail chains.

The future alcoholic beverage market will be a more diverse and interesting place as a result.

Spirits Producers & Producer Organisations formally unite as the World Spirits Alliance

Global spirits producers unite to get a global voice.



Spirits producers and producer organisations from across the world joined forces recently in Geneva for the formal creation of the World Spirits Alliance (WSA), an international trade association dedicated to representing the views and interests of the spirits sector at the international level. Following many years of successful cooperation, members decided to set up a dedicated, formal organisation to act as the common global voice for the distilled spirits sector.

WSA will act as a representative partner and interlocutor before international organisations, such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations (UN). WSA and its members will continue to pursue the elimination of tariff, non-tariff barriers, and discriminatory taxes, fair, transparent and evidence-based regulation, adequate excise tax structures, proportionate evidence-based public health measures for distilled spirits and ambitious strategies to combat illicit alcohol.

“Many of us have been working together for nearly two decades, hence setting up a formal trade association to act as a united global voice on the integrity and social responsibility of our spirits industry is a natural and important step forward. Distilled spirits are a vibrant and highly dynamic sector with a unique diversity of products and producers across the world,” said Marie Audren who will act as Secretary General for the WSA.


       

“The aims of the WSA are to create a common platform for exchange and have a representative body that will allow us to comment on issues of global relevance, particularly in the areas of trade and regulatory policy, and help develop a positive environment for the sustainable success of the sector,” said Rodolfo González González (Camara Nacional de la Industria Tequilera) who was elected as first President of the WSA.


         

WSA members represent producers of products such as Baiju from China, Tequila from Mexico, Brazilian Cachaça, Indian IMFL, Cognac and internationally traded whiskies like Scotch Whisky, Irish Whiskey and American Bourbon (to name but a few).

“Distilled spirits are celebrated and responsibly enjoyed around the globe and generate jobs, economic growth and tax revenue in the countries where they are produced. At the same time, in many markets around the world, distilled spirits are heavily taxed and regulated, and we face trade barriers that are only applicable, or applied more excessively, to distilled spirits. This situation needs to be reviewed and addressed,” said Amrit Kiran Singh (International Spirits & Wines Association of India) who was elected Vice President.



       

“We want to demonstrate to national authorities that we are committed to responsibility and that advancing fair treatment of spirits products in the marketplace will have a positive impact on their economies,” concluded Chris Swonger, President and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).

WSA and its individual members are committed to responsible production, advertising and marketing practices and to encouraging adults who choose to consume spirits, to do so responsibly and in moderation.

The WSA membership includes trade associations and producers of distilled spirits from across the world:

• spiritsEUROPE
• Asia Pacific International Wines & Spirits Alliance Limited
• Camara Nacional de la Industria Tequilera
• The Scotch Whisky Association
• Association of Canadian Distillers
• Pernod Ricard
• DIAGEO
• International Spirits & Wines Association of India
• Japanese Spirits Liquor Makers Association
• Brown-Forman
• Distilled Spirits Council of United States
• Spirits New Zealand
• Rémy Cointreau
• Beam Suntory
• Spirits & Cocktail Australia
• Campari
• Edrington

Dr. Uppiliappan Gopalan – awarded Most Admired Business Leader for 2019

The winners of the awards for most Admired Leaders 2019 and Prestigious Brands of Asia 2019 were announced at the Malaysia, Global Business Symposium organized by Herald Global at Hotel Inter Continental recently.



The event was attended by honourable guests from all over Asia. The guest of Honour included Datuk Seri Garry Chua – President, Malaysia Retail Chain Association, Datuk AT Kumararajah – Deputy President, Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI), Datuk Munirah Abdul Hamid – Founder, Pertiwi Soup Kitchen, Dr Zainab, Malaysia Palm Oil Board and Mr. Surendran Menon from Malaysia Indian Business council. They shared their respective opinions and perspective alongwith all the leaders and brands in a quick byte session about the topic “One Asia – One Vision, One Identity, One Culture” for improving relations to maintain integrity between Asian nations.

Dr. Uppiliappan Gopalan

After a sharing views, eminent personalities and brands from all over Asia were awarded for their achievements and promising future.

Dr. Uppiliappan Gopalan, COO of KALS Group – awarded as most admired Business Leader for the year 2019. Other people who bagged the awards are Ms. Larissa Ping, Miss World Malaysia, Mr. Georg Sparschuh, President of SCHOTT tubing, Mr. Vishen Lakhiani, Mr. Uday Kotak – CMD of Kotak Mahindra Bank, Mr Mukesh Amabani – CEO of Reliance Industries Limited and Mr. Sachin Tendulkar – Indian Cricketer

Dr Uppiliappan Gopalan- Group COO (KALS Group), an astute strategist with impeccable business acumen, is a Chemical Engineer (B Tech) and an Post Diploma in Management from IIM-Bangalore with Finance & Operations Specialization. He holds an Executive Diploma in Advanced Financial Analytics from globally renowned London Business School (LBS). He also holds a Doctorate Degree in Supply Chain & Finance Integration. Dr Uppiliappan is also Prestigious awardee of Peter Drucker Award for the year 2016 for the outstanding performance in Finance & Business Process Automation Category of Automotive Sector during his stint with M/s Bhatia Brothers Group as COO, an AED 1.8 Mn Conglomerate in UAE with presence in 10 Countries.

Dr. Gopalan is a strategic think-tank cum implementer with recognised proficiency in spearheading operations/business with an aim to accomplish corporate plans and goals successfully. Dr. Gopalan is a well-known adjuct faculty for Finance & Supply Chain and has been invited by various forums as Conference Speaker & Conference Chair. Currently, he serves as Technical Advisory Committee – Titanium Finance Conference for Finance Professionals (Ireland).

He was a Keynote Speaker – Northwest Business Group Conference in Mastering Human Capital (Istanbul) – Role of TQM in Value Addition for Business; Session Planery Speaker –ARTDO – Manila (Asia-Pacific- Re-engineering Towards a Strategic and Driven Workforce; and Conference Co-Chair for 17 International Symposium of Banking, Finance, & Economics (Singapore).

Under Gopalan’s guidance, organisations attained various expertise in financial services and solutions. Being the Top 100 Globally acclaimed SAP Certified Resource for Finance, Treasury, & Supply Chain Modules & Top 10 Operational Excellence Certified Professional in APAC, Dr Gopalan’s core strength lies in Strategy Planning, Mergers and Acquisitions, Emerging Markets Development, Techno-commercial Evaluations, Financial Modelling and Business Valuations, Project Management (Greenfield / Brown Field), and Blue Ocean Strategies. With the hands-on expertise in handling a revenue size of 600 Million USD, Dr. Gopalan is versatile on P & L Management, Operational Excellence, Excellence in Financial Management, & Projects Management.

Budget sets a clear action plan for making India $5 trillion economy

 

India is cruising towards becoming a $5 trillion economy. Indian alcobev industry stalwarts add credence to FICCI’s take on the budget.



Commenting on the Union Budget 2019-20 recently presented by the Finance Minister Ms Nirmala Sitharaman, Mr Sandip Somany, President, FICCI said, “Directionally the budget is good, and it takes forward the plan that was laid out by the government during the Interim budget. There are several positives in the budget, and it provides a set of benefits for most segments of the society. We see a clear action plan for realising the vision of making India a US$ 5 trillion economy over the next few years with a focus on ease of living.”


Anand Kripalu



“A balanced budget that draws from a long-term vision for the country! Through policy reforms to rejuvenate investment, ‘Make in India’ and Ease of Doing Business, as well as measures to tackle the country’s water shortage and climate change, the budget lives up to the government’s vison of a New India that aims at inclusive growth. The acknowledgement of India Inc’s role as the nation’s job and wealth creators is heartening. Operating with the high standards of compliance, in a sector that is in urgent need of regulatory reform, we are delighted at the Government’s vision of ‘Minimum Government Maximum Governance’, which we hope the Centre will encourage States to adopt towards the alcoholic beverages sector,” points out Anand Kripalu, Managing Director and CEO, Diageo India.

The budget maintained its focus on infrastructure development. While the government would continue with its existing major national programmes like Bharatmala, Sagarmala, Rural roads, Udan and Inland waterways scheme, the vision of taking connectivity to the next level through ‘One Nation One Grid’ for electricity and a similar plan for gas grids, water grids, i-ways and regional airports is indeed ambitious and would be transformational in its impact. “FICCI has been advocating the need for such networks and would work with the government on realising this vision. We are also encouraged by the Minister’s focus on promoting public-private partnership for modernisation and upgradation of the nation’s railway infrastructure,” added Mr Somany.

The MSME sector also got its due focus in the budget. Availability of finance and delay in payments are the two key issues faced by MSMEs. The government has attempted to address these through allocation of `350 crore for interest subvention scheme for GST registered MSMEs and creation of a payments platform to enable filing of bills and payment thereof on the platform itself. Also noteworthy is the suggestion to set up a social stock exchange for listing of social enterprises and voluntary organisations. This is expected to open up new avenues for funding for entities working in the social sectors.

Neeraj Kumar



With the Indian economy poised to become a $3 trillion economy in 2019, the Union Budget balanced prudently between focus on enablers for near term growth with a visionary 10 year road map to sustain and scale this growth.

Closer to our category, the announcement to develop 17 iconic world-class tourist sites is good news. We continue to expect greater transparency and ease of doing business in states and central regulatory framework to enable sustainable and compliant growth for our sector, says Neeraj Kumar, MD Beam Global Spirits & Wine India.      

Abhishek Khaitan





The industry sees a confident and clear articulation to boost growth by reduction in corporate tax and sops to housing sector and startups. The focus on sustainability with electric vehicles and water is visionary but enabling infrastructure needs to be implemented.

“The budget is focussed on vision and inclusive growth,” believes Mr Abhishek Khaitan, Managing Director, Radico Khaitan Limited. The new government till date has pursued pro-growth initiatives and, I believe, this budget will continue the impetus to further boost economic growth and investor confidence. The government is well positioned for a swift and efficient execution of progressive initiatives. Smt Nirmala Sitharaman’s maiden Budget – the first to be presented by a female Finance Minister — emphasises on infrastructure development, freeing up liquidity to troubled NBFCs, generating jobs in the MSME sector, and generally enhancing the ease of doing business. As a listed corporate, we believe that having a 35% public float is positive in terms of better corporate governance standards and valuations and carries a potential of increasing India’s weight in the global indices.

The budget is equally focused on welfare, health, sanitation, water, transformation, standard of living and support to farmers.

Nirmala Sitharaman ji stressing on the ‘Gaon, Garib and Kisan’ aims at enabling the rural economy through multiple schemes. With the aim of boosting the agricultural sector in the country, the government’s plan to reassess the implementation of zero budget farming has the potential of nearly doubling farmers’ income. Additionally, 10 thousand new farmer producer organisations will be set up for ensuring market reach for the farmers. The other schemes announced in the budget such as Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana, cluster-based rural industrialisation for promoting 50,000 artisans, 75000 skilled agri entrepreneurs and overall focus on dairy sector are all very laudable.

The vision of each house having water, electricity and cooking gas by 2022 is commendable and there is a very close interdependence between water, sanitation, health, nutrition, and human well-being. We view water as a central resource for a sustainable India and the thrust to provide piped water to all rural households by 2024 is what inclusive growth is all about.

To conclude I commend Ms Sitharaman for appreciating the contribution of India’s private sector in the fantastic rise of the country’s economy. While the fiscal balance has been managed well with the deficit aimed at just over 3%, the overall, the budget is pro-poor, pro-rural and pro-ease of doing business. The simplification of the GST, the simplification of tax reforms and indirect taxes and the support to startups not only will help in bringing in more capital and employment, it will significantly benefit society at large and help achieve aspirations of millions of Indians.

“I would emphasise that the government has taken due cognisance of the funding needs of a growing economy and this is reflected in a series of measures announced to deepen the country’s capital markets as well as help increase inflows both through the institutional investment and direct investment route. In our pre-budget consultation, FICCI had suggested the need to look at FDI norms in sectors such as insurance, animation, gaming etc. and we are glad this found a mention in the budget,” said Mr Somany. Additionally, to attract cross border investments, the statutory limit of FPI in a company is proposed to be increased from the current 24% to the sector foreign investment limit.

The announcement to further provide `70,000 crore for capital infusion into public sector banks along with measures to strengthen the governance processes within the banks should help in improving the credit flow to the industry. “The NBFC sector has been in focus on account of the stress being faced due to liquidity crunch in the last few months. Acknowledging the important role played by NBFCs, some key measures have been taken which should help ease the liquidity situation for the fundamentally sound NBFCs going ahead. As this happens, we hope to see greater amounts being sanctioned and disbursed by the para-banks particularly in the MSME and retail segment,” said Mr Somany.

Another novel feature of the budget is to marry the benefits of rural infrastructure development with sustainable livelihood opportunities. Having achieved tremendous success over the last five years in terms of promoting connectivity, housing, provision of electricity and clean energy in rural areas, the focus now is to promote traditional resource-based industries and create avenues for self-employment and entrepreneurship. “From the point of view of the farm community, the decisions to set up 10,000 farmer producer organisations and fully leverage the benefits of e-NAM for getting fair and remunerative price are welcome. In FICCI’s Agenda for the New Government, both these points were highlighted, and we had urged the government that these are essential components of any strategy aimed towards doubling income of our farmers over the next few years,” said Mr Somany. To strengthen the education system in the country, FICCI had suggested that the government finalises and implements the National Education Policy, sets up a National Science, Technology and Human Research Foundation; and hasten the setting up of Higher Education Commission of India. FICCI would like to thank the government for having incorporated these suggestions in the budget proposals.

On the disinvestment front, FICCI welcomes the government’s decision to enhance the target for the current year to `1.05 lakh crore. We had of course suggested that given the demands on exchequer, government should look at a target of `1.5 lakh crore. Additionally, the government’s decision to consider divesting its stake in select public sector units to below 51% is interesting and we look forward to details on this subject. “On the taxation front, while we are happy to note the decision to raise the turnover limit from `250 crore to `400 crore for companies that would attract a corporate tax rate of 25%, we had hoped that this rate will be applicable to all firms. Given the way tax policies are evolving globally, we need to be competitive if we are to attract and retain investments at a high level. With the Economic Survey also highlighting the critical role played by private investments in addressing concerns related to growth and employment, a bigger boost to the corporate sector was expected,” said Mr Somany.

Enhanced deduction for interest payments on loan taken for affordable housing, clarification on Angel Tax and the thrust on speedier resolution of legacy tax disputes in the indirect tax segment are some of the other important announcements on the tax side.

Finally, government has remained focussed on making India a ‘cash-lite economy’ and once again we saw in this budget a couple of suggestions that would help the country move ahead on this track.

The Industry Today And The Opportunities Of The Future

The first guest speaker at the TFWA Asia Pacific Conference was Andrew Ford, President of the Asia Pacific Travel Retail Association. He detailed the four areas of his organisation’s activity – advocacy and helping the industry to defend itself, research, (including a report on young China produced in partnership with TFWA), training, and events. With more and more issues facing the industry, and the policy changes that have been taking place in Europe coming to Asia, airports are, he said, more engaged and more aware of the need for advocacy. The association’s Economic Impact report will, he stated, provide valuable insight into the scale and scope of the industry in Asia.

Copyright: TFWA Press Office

A thought-provoking keynote address from The Economist’s Foreign Editor Robert Guest looked at how the geopolitical climate is affecting trading relationships between the world’s superpowers. He spoke of how societies can be ‘open’ or ‘closed’. Travel, he said, can only be good for the world as it broadens the mind. When you let people in, he concluded, you get the benefit of their ideas and culture – and that makes the world more prosperous.

Next on stage, Kate Ancketill, CEO of GDR Creative Intelligence offered fascinating insight into how ‘new retail’ (combining online, offline logistics and data across a single value chain) will define the retail landscape of the future. Multi-tracking, which sees the same retail space adapted and regularly updated to suit a wide range of consumers, is one of the most important movements that is shaping today’s retail.

3Sixty’s Executive Vice President Roberto Graziani spoke of the retail revolution that started with e-commerce and accelerated with the development of smartphone technology. With 25% of all e-commerce sales in the US already being carried out on a mobile, online channels will soon overtake offline. Effective partnerships to leverage data, strong use of data analytics and innovation are essential for omnichannel to truly elevate travel retail.

Offering an airline’s perspective, Campbell Wilson, SVP of Sales and Marketing at Singapore Airlines said that the airline is usually the anchor in any data consortium. He said that sales can no longer only take place on board, and airlines must go online to give travellers what they want, when they want it.

Copyright: TFWA Press Office

Przemyslaw Lesniak, CEO of Lagardère Travel Retail Pacific stated that in the current travel retail market, being a superb retailer is no longer enough. He outlined how he had adopted the welcoming and fun characteristics of the local culture within his own business. More than a brand or retailer, we should actually strive to be ‘an unforgettable host’, he said.

Dong-ik Shin, Director of Concession Planning Team at Incheon International Airport explored the role of retail in the airport of the future. He described a virtuous cycle, in which revenue from travel retail is used to improve facilities and maintain lower charges. This helps airlines to become more competitive and bring in more passengers, which in turn increases retail revenues. Already enjoying duty free revenues which are growing much faster than passenger traffic, his airport’s vision is, he said, to become the world’s best for shopping and dining by 2025.

Duty Free World Council’s President Frank O’Connell took to the stage to announce the launch of an industry-wide training platform, created in partnership with the Institute of International Retail. While face-to-face training can be costly and takes staff off the sales floor, the new programme is a cost-effective way to deliver an internationally recognised educational programme. It will provide clear career pathways which will help to improve staff retention, and build a community of loyal staff which will positively impact returns.

Moving on to the highly pertinent subject of sustainability, Vanessa Wright, Group Vice President of Pernod Ricard stated that increasingly consumers want to work for and buy from companies that ‘do the right thing’. There are a number of simple measures that the travel retail industry can take, such as offsetting, but sustainability should be the responsibility of all in an organisation, not simply that of one department. Her own company’s action plan detailed a commitment to strive for sustainability ‘from grain to glass’.

Gemma Bateson, JTI Worldwide Duty Free Corporate Affairs Director examined the challenges arising from the legislative constraints encroaching on brands’ capacity to market themselves effectively. While regulation is not per se a ‘bad thing’, that regulation, which is often designed for the different circumstances of the domestic market, must be proportionate and sensible. The demand for regulation relating to product labelling will affect all categories, and she called for a united approach in combatting the threat.

Nestlé International Travel Retail’s General Manager Stewart Dryburgh said that there was plenty of room for growth in his category, and confectionery & fine food could be worth US $10 billion in 10 years’ time. Key to this growth is meeting consumers’ three core needs, which are Deeper Connections (meaning how connected consumers are to friends and family); Better for You (the ability to choose healthier products); and Elevated Experiences (which means enjoying a bigger and better experience).

The day concluded with a look into the future of technology from Alan Brennan, Managing Director at creative commercial tech agency dcGTR. He said success within the duty free and travel retail industry will be affected by our ability to research and establish what our customers want. Virtual reality technology can enable us to understand how customers would behave in a store, and what choices they would make, without the need to invest in a physical building.