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Jul, 20 2018

Unibev eyes Rs 100 cr raise for expansion

Unibev’s offerings compete with the premium brands of French giant Pernod Ricard and British company Diageo, which now controls United Spirits.

Unibev is looking to raise Rs 100 crore to fund an expansion drive planned by the premium alcohol startup, founded by former United Spirits managing director Vijay Rekhi in collaboration with bulk alcohol producer Globus Spirits.

“The fundraising will be completed before March 2019 to help us spread to the top 17 markets in the country and enable us garner around a tenth of India’s premium alcohol market, which is currently growing at 9% a year,” Rekhi told ET.

He said the company has launched the Governor’s Reserve whisky using 12-year-old scotch, Oakton Barrel Aged whisky with 18-year-old scotch and a brandy brand, L’Affaire, using three-year-old grape spirit in the southern states.

Unibev’s offerings compete with the premium brands of French giant Pernod Ricard and British company Diageo, which now controls United Spirits.

“In a price-sensitive market, our premium brands are priced very competitively to deliver to consumer aspiration for scotch like smooth and premium blends,” said Rekhi, adding that this was part of a strategy to disrupt India’s premium alcohol market.

The firm is now eyeing to sell 100,000 cases in the first year that could fetch it a 5-7% market share in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Puducherry where it currently sells products. While the semi-premium and premium whisky segments were growing at 7% and 9% a year, respectively, in India, the premium brandy market is growing at 15%.

Rekhi said Unibev’s partner Globus Spirits owns the largest grain-based distillery in India that offered a distinct advantage for the startup’s premium portfolio.

The company is looking at launching whiskies of higher vintage shortly, he said.

Viewing that the Indian market had not seen any innovation in brandy flavours for more than three decades, Rekhi said Unibev’s L’Affaire was a runaway success in the pilot market of Puducherry. “Here again, we plan to launch brandies with higher vintages, shortly,” he said.

Rekhi said Unibev would ramp up its portfolio also with premium differentiated rum, vodka, beer and imported brands. “This is the beginning of a long drawn out disruption by Unibev in all flavours and profitable price points in the Indian beverage alcohol market,” he said.

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