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Seagram knocks out Royal Challenge from top slot in AP

Boby Kurian

Bangalore , March 15

SEAGRAM has claimed that its Blenders Pride has toppled Shaw Wallace & Co (SWC)'s Royal Challenge as the largest selling premium whisky in Andhra Pradesh.

The development, though in a single market, is seen as significant since Royal Challenge has lorded over the premium whisky segment in the country for over 20 years.

Mr Bikram Basu, General Manager (Marketing), Seagram Manufacturing Ltd, said Blenders Pride has managed to emerge as the leader in Andhra Pradesh with 30 per cent market share.

"Our brand now sells more than Royal Challenge in Andhra Pradesh, which is a 90,000 cases market for the premium whisky segment annually," he said. He said the performance in the State was indicative of the brand's buoyancy in many other markets. This is reportedly the first time a rival brand is claiming leadership over Royal Challenge in any State.

Seagram states that Blenders Pride accounts for 2.5 lakh cases in an overall premium whisky segment pegged at 1.5 million cases annually. The market leader Royal Challenge stakes claim to over 65 per cent share. The news on the advance made by Blenders Pride in Andhra Pradesh comes at a time when SWC has mounted a PR campaign claiming that Royal Challenge could become the first premium Indian whisky to touch one million cases sales in the current financial year, 2003-04, up from roughly 8.5 lakh cases in the previous year.

The main challenge to Royal Challenge's leadership comes from Seagram's Blenders Pride and McDowell's Signature, which sells over 2.2 lakh cases. Signature whisky is currently not sold in the Canteen Stores Depot for armed forces where both Royal Challenge and Blenders Pride have roughly 2.5 lakh and 80,000 cases respectively locked up in volume.

Mr Basu said Blenders Pride hoped to grow at 25 per cent in 2004-05 to lift its market share in the premium whisky segment from 16 to 21 per cent. He added that the brand's association with fashion has worked well. The Blenders Pride Fashion Tour, now into the second year, covers New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore. This year the tour features designers Aki Narula, Rohit Gandhi & Rahul Khanna, Manish Aror, Rocky S, Tarun Tahiliani with models Katrina Kaif, Fleur Xavier, Nina Manuel and Jesse Randhawa.

The domestic premium whisky segment has witnessed nearly 10 per cent organic growth in the concluding financial year, 2003-04. Analysts said Royal Challenge's return to investment mode to ramp up brand building along with economic buoyancy and rapidly spreading urbanisation were fuelling the growth for premium whiskies among the core customers in the age bracket of 30 to 40 years. Mumbai and the National Capital Region remain the leading markets for the premium whisky segment in the country.

More Stories on : Market Shares | Breweries | Andhra Pradesh

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