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INTERVIEW

"We bring the best for India in a complex environment"
Monday, 12 December, 2016, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Aspri Spirits Private Ltd was established in 2004. The company today represents some of the finest brands in the world of wines, beer, cider and spirits and has emerged as a top player in the alcoholic beverage segment.

The company with its commitment to ensure highest quality standards focusses on the sales, marketing and distribution of wines, beer, spirits and cider and is dedicated to building premium international brands in travel retail and domestic markets across Indian sub-continent. In an email interaction with Libin Chacko Kurian, Arun Kumar, co-founder Aspri Spirits, shares his views on the market and industry. Excerpts:

Brief us on your journey with Aspri Spirits, as a company which represents some of the finest international brands in India.
It has been a very memorable journey with lots of twists and turns and loads of action. At the end, what matters is the destination and also the direction in which we are moving. When one goes back into time when we started and where we are now, it truly is a humbling experience.

How big is Aspri Spirits for the Indian beverage market, in terms of share, revenue, reach and the product list?
In our opinion, it is not about how big we are but how effectively we are able to bring in the best of products for the Indian consumer in a complex environment. We do have a fairly diverse product portfolio and certainly do contribute to the bevy of global brands in the country.

How was the performance of Aspri Spirits in 2014-15, in terms of turnover, sales and products?
We have grown over the previous year despite several hurdles for the industry.

Brief us on international brands and products, which are represented by Aspri Spirits in India.
We do carry a very diverse portfolio ranging from wines, spirits and liqueurs. All the products we carry are well acclaimed globally and are strong market drivers in the beverage world.

Could you compare the products from different brands and countries, in terms of sales, popularity and acceptance in India?
It is difficult to compare different product categories as they are unique and have their own special character. However wines are a good example of diversity as they reflect the nature, terroir, and climate of the region as it comes through beautifully in a bottle combined with the mastery of the wine maker. Wines are gaining increasing acceptance apart from the growth in liqueurs and white spirits in a market dominated by brown spirits.
 
What are the recent trends witnessed by Aspri Spirits in the markets, in terms of consumer demand and industry supply?
The demographics and taste profiles of the consumer are evolving in India and see a growing trend in speciality liqueurs and cocktail consumption. Wines, both still and sparkling, also continue to gain interest and are in the consideration set of choices of consumption.
 
What makes your company and its offerings different from competitors in the Indian market?
Aspri’s diverse segments ranging from wines, liqueurs, spirits and beer under one umbrella is definitely a plus. Some brands  we carry don’t have any competitors.
 
Brief us on the storage, marketing and distribution capabilities of your company in India.
Aspri is very well geared up in terms of storage and logistics and has reach to the end-consumer in over 19 states spanning the east, south, west and the north of the country. Our warehouses in Delhi and Mumbai also have 24x7 temperature-controlled areas which are used for products such as wines and speciality liqueurs.

The team is capable of handling product movement in a geographically large country such as India with its varying nuances of policies and state regulations. We have a dedicated marketing team which is responsible for product activation and promotion and also very active on social media.
 
Which are the biggest and fastest growing markets (or cities) for your company in India, in terms of sales and presence?
The main markets of Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi NCR, Chennai are traditionally strong. We do see second-tier cities such as Pune, Chandigarh, Goa and some markets of the east showing great promise.

What can we expect from your company in near future, in terms of new brands and products?
We are selective about product additions and gauge the potential before we list them. We are consolidating our current portfolio this year.

What are the challenges that you faced in the beverage trade and markets, in terms of government regulations and processing?
India is a complex market with varying regulatory mechanisms across states and the centre. This definitely hinders growth potential if there is lack of clarity. This is a constant challenge.

How imported wine consumption is changing among Indian consumers, in terms of quantity, quality and value?
As mentioned earlier, the wine segment is gaining increasing acceptance and consumers are willing to experiment wines from different countries and price points. In our opinion, wine appreciation should be the main force going forward which will enable a consumer to appreciate varying quality and also be inclined to pay higher prices for the same.
 
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