Asian rum interest only a matter of time

Asian interest in the rum category is a question of when not if, according to the Havana Club CEO Jerome Cottin-Bizonne.

Talking to Drinks International, Cottin-Bizonne said current sales growth of Havana Club in Asia has been “interesting” from a "small base" but that Pernod Ricard has the distribution network to respond "when" the demand swells. 

Yves Schladenhaufen, Havana Club's international marketing director said: "Pernod Ricard has the most powerful distribution network in Asia, especially in China”.

“We are not worried. If something is happening [in Asia] we will be well placed because of our network. The success story of Havana Club was putting together the Cuban rum making know-how with the distribution network of Pernod Ricard.”

Speaking about the current Havana Club strategy in China, Schladenhaufen said: “The short term strategy is seeding Havana Club in the western-style on-trade in major cities – where they are making cocktails – but this is still a tiny part of the business. [Whereas] whisky and cognac is sold in the traditional on-trade – karaoke bars for example.”

Cottin-Bizonne explained that while Pernod Ricard and Cuba Ron are poised with Havana Club, one brand cannot create a long-term trend.

He said: “We cannot force a trend in the Asian markets but when a brand has built its core base and is known worldwide it can take off in Asia. We need to build a cult brand in Europe first.” 

Havana Club, having sold 3.84 million 9-litre cases in 2011, is the third largest international rum brand, behind Bacardi (19.56m cases) and Captain Morgan (9.20m cases).