Vodka at the top of annual charts

07 September, 2007

The UK off-trade spirits market

crept up 2.9 per cent in the year to Aug 11 2007, after a static 2005-06.

There's not much change at the top of the chart - Smirnoff still reigns supreme with sales up 4 per cent to comfortably over £200 million.

It has a 7.5 per cent share of the off-trade spirits market,

a comfortable way ahead of number two Bell's, which saw sales drop 1 per cent

over the year.

In third place, The Famous Grouse had a good year, boosting sales by 5 per cent and continuing its Six Nations rugby sponsorship.

But this year's stellar performance came from Glen Catrine's Glen's Vodka, which grew sales 32 per cent, climbing from 7th place in last year's OLN Spirits Report to 4th place


ousting a struggling Baileys from the top five.

Baileys sales dropped 25 per cent, with volumes falling even more drastically, by 39 per cent. Diageo has blamed the losses on a two-for-£25 promotion over Christmas 2006, which it said excluded lighter consumers of the liqueur, and Sainsbury's own-label lookalike is also partly to blame. The fall shows how vital it is to get promotions right, especially over the key Christmas period.


Baileys Mint Chocolate stormed into the top 50 with a 648 per cent sales hike. Although its sales are less than one-tenth of its big brother's, it is nearly on a par with such established brands as Disaronno and Rémy Martin.

This year's highest new entry was InterContinental Brands' lower-alcohol vodka, Vodkat, which broke into the chart at number 32 after boosting sales by 237 per cent in the past year.

Absolut, The Glenlivet, Tia Maria, Disaronno, Jack Daniel's, Glen Catrine's High Commissioner, Greenalls Gin, Morgan's Spiced and Whyte & Mackay all saw strong growth.

Of those, Absolut, Tia Maria and The Glenlivet grew volumes by substantially more than value sales, which may mean they were promoting heavily. Many of the others had high-profile ads, notably JD's campaigns around Christmas and "Jack's birthday" in September, and Disaronno's TV and cinema ads.

Other losers this year include Pimm's No 1,

down 20 per cent o n sales thanks to the washout summer. Halewood International's Red Square dropped 21 per cent of sales

and has recently been repackaged to compete against under-£10 vodkas rather than premium brands. One of its key competitors, Vladivar, lost 20 per cent of sales.

Booker's Jacobite Whisky, Winerite's Royal Czar and Beam Global's Laphroaig have all seen serious sales slides.

Overall, many

brands which grew sales saw them outstrip volume increases - which could mean the premiumisation everyone has been talking about is really starting to happen in the off-trade .

But with a lower-than-inflation sales increase and volumes climbing just 1 per cent , spirits producers, suppliers and retailers have their work cut out to really push some value back into the market.

What is the UK off-trade spirits market worth?

Year to Aug 11 2007: £2,717 million

Year to July 15 2006: £2,632 million

Value from Aug 2006: +3%

Volume change from Aug 2006: +2%

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