Johnnie Walker – still strongest travel-retail spirits brand

Premium Scotch brand Johnnie Walker maintained its leadership in the duty-free spirits world despite a decline of 4.5% to 2.2 million cases last year.

The brand sells more than double that of its next nearest competitor in duty-free spirits, Absolut, which also witnessed a decline of 10.4% to 897,500 cases according to the IWSR Database 2014.

Johnnie Walker’s decline is almost entirely attributable to massive declines in important Asia-Pacific markets, whereas Absolut’s biggest loss came from the Americas.

The duty-free spirits market in Asia-Pacific took a tumble in 2013 as the Chinese authorities began to cut back on bribery and corruption at senior levels following years of strong growth there while the Americas and Europe both continued their upward trend.

The Asia Pacific market witnessed a contraction in travel-retail of 4.4% last year compared to the previous year, 2012.

However Jack Daniels saw a 20% global travel-retail rise in sales – the strongest growth in the top 10 travel-retail spirits – to reach 876,500 cases and overtake sales of Chivas Regal, pushing the brand into fourth place as volume sales dropped by 4.6% to 856,900 cases. In fifth place Bacardi flatlined at around 696,000 cases.

The second fastest-growing brand in the top 10 was Finlandia, which grew 14% in 2013 to tip the 400,000-case mark. Finlandia entered the top 10 this year, pushing out Courvoisier, which declined in volume sales by 7.3%.

Top 10 of the IWSR’s Travel Retail Top 100 list
Rank/Brand Owner Volume 2009 Volume 2012 Volume 2013 % change 2013 on ’12 %CAGR 2008-’13
1 Johnnie Walker Diageo 1,482.4 2,319.6 2,216.2 -4.5 6.6
2 Absolut Pernod Ricard 859.5 1,001.8 897.5 -10.4 -3.2
3 Jack Daniel’s Brown-Forman 434.8 730.5 876.5 20.0 11.9
4 Chivas Regal Pernod Ricard 598.0 897.9 856.9 -4.6 2.1
5 Bacardi Bacardi 575.5 695.3 696.1 0.1 1.6
6 Baileys Diageo 605.6 698.4 673.3 -3.6 -1.1
7 Smirnoff Diageo 581.8 623.0 620.7 -0.4 0.0
8 Ballantine’s Pernod Ricard 381.7 564.4 581.2 3.0 3.3
9 Hennessy LVMH 270.0 476.6 482.8 1.3 13.8
10 Finlandia Brown-Forman 267.4 354.4 403.8 14.0 3.8
Source: The IWSR Database 2014
All volume figures in thousands of nine-litre cases

According to the IWSR, “The Americas market saw the most rapid expansion, posting a 4.2% rise in volumes, with Latin America, the Caribbean and North America all enjoying healthy growth. The Americas’ share of the global market, at 19.7%, is now well ahead of that of Asia-Pacific, at 17.7%. Growth continued in Africa and the Middle East, with a 3% increase driven by the expansion of the Middle Eastern market.

“Africa suffered the sharpest drop in sales last year, down -9.6% partly as a result of the recent downturn in tourism to Egypt because of political turmoil.

“Sales in the largest regional market, Europe, grew more slowly in 2013 than in the previous year (+1.5%), but the region increased its share of total volumes to 54%, reversing 2012’s drop in market share. Eastern Europe and the Baltics was the fastest-growing sub-region last year, posting a 9.7% increase in sales. A revival in tourism in southern Europe helped sales there rise by 2%, while central Europe and the Balkans also grew by 2%. The Nordic and north-west Europe markets saw a slight drop in volumes.”

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