Musical chairs on the vodka front

After losing the distribution of Russian Standard to Whyte & Mackay, First Drinks has revealed that it is now to distribute Green Mark, the No. 1 vodka brand in the Russian market and Polish brand Zubrówka Bison Grass Vodka both owned by the Central European Distribution Corporation (CEDC). Zubrówka has been distributed by Marblehead in the UK for the past 13 years, and Marblehead Business Development Director Dave Steward told DRAM, “We will still be working with the brand until July 2012 and we have enjoyed building the brand in the UK. With sales of 25,000 cases Zubrówka is the No. 1 flavoured vodka in the UK and we have ensured the UK is the No. 2 Export market for Zubrówka globally. It has been a pleasure working with owners CEDC in Poland.”
He continues, “We wish them well, but for us it is onwards and upwards. We entered a strategic partnership with Proximo in the UK last year and we are working on Kraken Spiced Rum, one of the fastest growing rum brands.
We are also developing a portfolio of wholly owned brands including Skipper Rum and Davna Czeri Vodka.”
It’s not the
first time that Marblehead have built a brand in the UK. They initially were responsible for bringing Absolut here, seeded Maker’s Mark in, and Wyborowa too.
Although Green Mark is the No. 1 vodka brand in the Russian market and one of the top vodka brands in the world, with annual sales of approximately 10m 9 litre cases worldwide, it is not widely recognised in the UK.
Chris Mason, Managing Director of First Drinks, comments, “The new vodkas are an excellent fit within our existing portfolio, complementing our current brands. We have a strong track record of building premium brands and have big ambitions for 2012.”
William Carey, President and CEO of CEDC, said, “We believe First Drinks Brands will contribute to further expansion of Green Mark which, as an authentic, high quality vodka from Russia has great sales potential in the UK. We also
look forward to strengthening the position of Zubrówka which is our key export brand and has already won recognition in the UK market”.
In addition to Green Mark and Zubrówka, CEDC’s Kauffman, an ultra premium vodka brand will also be joining the First Drinks portfolio.
In the on-trade, vodka growth is up 7% year on year.

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