Kingsland Drinks is to set up a standalone premium spirits business as the UK company expands further into new alcohol opportunities
The new unit, which has yet to be named, will boast a roster of third-party premium spirits brands as well as launch its own products in categories including RTDs and soft drinks. The unit aims to couple the off-premise distribution power of Kingsland with on-premise expertise draughted in to run the business.
Becky Davies, former global on-trade sales director for UK premium spirits distributor Mangrove, has been hired to lead the new unit. In an interview with just-drinks, Davies, who took on the role two weeks before the UK coronavirus lockdown, said she retains high confidence in premium spirits despite the recent closure of bars and restaurants. She said demand for high-quality spirits has remained strong during the lockdown as consumers learn to mix cocktails at home.
“Instead of spending GBP60 (US$78) on a bottle of wine in the on-premise, people are spending GBP25 on a bottle of wine for home,” Davies said. “They’re not spending as much but they do want a premium product. It’s the same with spirits. I think there’s been a growth in mature sales because people are trying to make cocktails at home.”
Davies said the new business will not restrict itself to spirits and will explore opportunities in premium RTDs and non-alcoholic products.
“We will be delving into all sorts of areas,” she said. “There’s some really interesting adult soft drinks out there and RTDs. If the product is right, if it ticks a lot of boxes, then absolutely it can join the portfolio.”
In the past few years, Kingsland has invested in new production equipment that has allowed it to expand in canned and bag-in-box products. The company has also built a spirits-filling line at facilities in Manchester. Speaking to just-drinks in March, Kingsland MD Ed Baker said the expansion is a reaction to a “slight pattern of decline” in Kingsland’s core wine business.
Commenting on the launch of the premium spirits business, Kingsland chairman Andy Sagar said: “Critically, its offering will be a welcome shot in the arm for premium drinks; UK consumers are increasingly seeking out new and exciting drinks and becoming more sophisticated in their choices and knowledge.”
Davies said the challenges of starting up a new business during lockdown have been unique. She has meet prospective brands through video conferencing calls, rather than the usual face-to-face meeting for sampling or trade visits. However, she said the new way of doing things has helped build…