New York is tough

New York is tough for a small company trying to get its brand listed and stocked in the city, according to the chief executive of Xanté, the Swedish company with the eponymous cognac and pear liqueur brand.

Adéle Nilsson was speaking to Drinks International at the Tax Free World Association (TFWA) exhibition in Cannes this week. She said that the 38% abv brand was now in 19 US states, was breaking into Russia through its distributor Maxxium and was now the fifth liqueur brand in Europe, the sixth in global travel retail and was a best-seller in the Nordic countries.

She admitted that where she has found it tough was in the New York bar and club scene where the big companies with their global brands dominate. “The route to market is tough,” she said. Particularly with some of these über trendy small speakeasies, she pointed out.

The nature of speakeasies with ‘by invitation only’, have to ring to get in, small maybe only 40 or 50 seats, means they are just not going to turn over a lot of volume and necessarily make a lot of money, without some form of help and/or support.

Nilsson also feels some mixologists are “spoilt” and indulging themselves by looking for unusual or obscure ingredients, the latest being “molecular”.

“Obviously it is easy for the big players like Diageo and Bacardi but we are never going to get the kind of volumes they get.

“With Xanté it is a dash here, a dash there and the customer isn’t going to necessarily know the ingredients. New York is a big challenge,” said Nilsson.

Another challenge is getting into Washington State. She said the state requires the brand to have listings with 100 accounts before it will approve distribution. “It is a chicken and egg situation. How can you get orders and re-orders without getting a listing.”

Nevertheless, Nilsson said California is “going great” and the brand is well established in travel retail and in its domestic Nordic markets. The company also owns the long established Peter Heering cherry liqueur brand which is a key ingredient to a classic Singapore Gin Sling cocktail. The company has just introduced a coffee liqueur variant, which has an abv of 35%.