Ginebra mulls venture into premium spirits (Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines – Ginebra San Miguel Inc., the hard liquor unit of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp., is taking a page from tycoon Andrew Tan’s Emperador with plans of venturing into premium spirits.

In a briefing following the company’s annual stockholders meeting yesterday, Ginebra president Bernard D. Marquez said the country’s leader in the gin segment is exploring possible expansion into the premium spirits business.

Marquez said Ginebra’s potential entry into the segment could be done through a partnership with an established foreign brand or through the creation of its own “higher-end, more premium type of products.”

“Strategic partnership is an option. There are those interested to talk to us but so far nothing has materialized,” Marquez said.

“We’re exploring options on participating in that segment because we already hold at present the market for gin on the mass market segment so we’re exploring possibly participating as well,” he added.

Ginebra’s biggest liquor competitor in the Philippines, Emperador, marked last year its expansion into the spirits business with its acquisition of Scotch whiskey maker Whyte and Mackay.

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“There is a bit of ‘premiumization’ that is happening in the market today but the segment is still very small. We don’t think it will grab a bigger share of the market as the mass market has right now in the Philippines. Ninety percent of the volume of liquor in the Philippines is still mass and economy brands so the premium segment is still very small at the moment,” Marquez said.

Ginebra is best known for alcoholic beverages catering mostly to the low-to-middle market segments with products such as Ginebra, GSM Blue, Gran Matador Brandy and Antonov.

“We expect competition to further intensify as fresh rounds of tax hikes lie on the horizon and trade borders fall with the Asean integration. As such, we will be focusing our efforts on aligning more closely with our customers and consumers, focusing our product portfolio and further growing our markets,” Marquez said.

To focus more on its liquor business, Ginebra earlier this month sold all of its non-alcoholic beverage assets to sister company San Miguel Brewery Inc. for nearly P400 million.

Marquez said proceeds of the sale would be used to pay company obligations.

“We want to focus on liquor, recognizing that it will be more competitive so it needs focus,” he said.

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