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Brydens says sales marginally down

Published: 
Thursday, December 22, 2016
ARTURO SAVAGE

Like some businesses in T&T that are feeling the brunt of the economic downturn, the speciality spirits, wine and gourmet shop Naughty Grape has introduced a strategy to stimulate demand for its one of its top whiskey brands, Johnnie Walker. It is offering free engraving of Christmas greetings on its bottles as well as gift wrapping at its Naughty Grape, Mucurapo Road, St James shop. This comes as it has introduced another blend to the local market called Karman.

Brand ambassador Arturo Savage, who was in T&T to promote the new blend, spoke to Business Guardian last week at the San Juan office of Brydens, the privately held local company that owns Naughty Grape.

Convinced that the Johnnie Walker brand has global strength in all of the markets it is currently in, Savage said: “Our brand is about quality, heritage and it’s about the content of the product.”

A true global brand, Johnnie Walker is sold in 200 countries. It is produced by Diageo, the United Kingdom-based spirits giant.

Asked how many cases are sold per annum, Savage did not immediately have the data but said on a global basis, every two seconds three bottles of Johnnie Walker are opened around the world.

Not daunted by competition in any of its markets, he said:

“We do have competitors but we are still number one. What is fascinating about whiskey is there is no such thing as bad whiskey.”

He said in Scotland alone there are ten distilleries producing whiskey. Explaining further about the Karman brand, Savage said it’s a special edition of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label blend of whiskey. The new blend costs $2,068 and the Blue Label brand costs $1,875.

Speaking about the company’s external environment, in the last few days of 2016, Nicholas Hospedales, director of premium beverages at Brydens, said the company has been in T&T since 1923 mainly offering imported brands to its customer base.

He said the supply of US currency continues to be a “challenge” for his company.

Referring specifically to operations on the port of Port-of-Spain, he said it is “less than perfect but it is better than previous years with regard to port congestion.”

The seven per cent online tax which was introduced in October 2016, does not affect Brydens as its stocks are shipped here and do not come into this market using the services provided by a courier.

Overall, he said the economic downturn has been challenging for Brydens but his company is preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

“We are marginally down, not as badly as we had anticipated but we (our sales) are not as good as last year. What we are facing is a shift in how and where they (the consumer) consumes.”

This means, he said, consumers may instead, opt out of going out on a night on the town, and instead purchase the alcohol at supermarket and have drinks at home with friends and family.

Hospedales said consumers are now seeing a decline in their buying power and Brydens—through Naughty Grape—has to find ways to creatively give them more and show them increased value.

Savage has been ambassador for 20 years travelling to the US and Europe and most parts of the world.

“I have met a lot of people and being ambassador of this brand, you have to know the product and what it stands for. I have travelled all throughout America, I have been to South Africa. I know many cultures, many people.

“My advice to young people is to travel and find out what the world has to offer.”

On a global basis, every two seconds three bottles of Johnnie Walker are opened around the world.