Crown Beverages Limited, a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA), the continental Coke bottler based in South Africa but with footprints in over a dozen African countries including Kenya announced it has signed a deal with Italy-based Gruppo Campari to distribute premium spirits brands in Kenya , heightening up competition in that market.
The deal will see Crown Beverages distribute Glen Grant Single Malt Scotch Whisky, old Smuggler blended Scotch Whisky, Bulldog Gin, SKYY Vodka and Campari’s Aperitif, among others.
“We were looking for opportunities and one that came up was to do distribution agreement with Gruppo Campari (Campari Group),” said Coca-Cola Beverages Africa Managing Director Daryl Wilson in an interview.
The distribution of premium liquor by Coke puts it in direct competition with Kenya’s other local spirits producers and distributors such as Diageo, Pernod Ricard, and Wines of the World.
According to Mr Wilson, Crown Beverages will not be producing spirits in Kenya, but will be limited to distributing Gruppo Campari’s brands. He notes that CCBA will stick to the manufacture of soft drinks and Energy drinks for the local market.
“The head office (South Africa) was looking for opportunities and we were very happy to take this on as an addition to our portfolio but it was done under Crown Beverages,” he said.
Crown Beverages was formerly owned by SABMiller. When CCBA was formed in 2014, it became part of the Coca-Cola system in Kenya.
Coca-Cola last year signaled its intentions to diversify its portfolio as sales of its flagship Coke brand waned across the globe.
In Nigeria, Scottish spirits firm Edrington last year partnered Premium Spirits Nigeria, a business division of the Nigerian Bottling Company Limited (NBC) to market and distribute its premium spirit brands in Nigeria.
“Crown Beverages have a liquor licence, they have always been selling alcohol so for us it was easy to put it in that existing entity,” said Mr Wilson.
CCBA owns Crown Beverages Limited and Equator Bottlers, Kenya’s third largest Coke bottler. It also hold majority stake in Nairobi Bottlers Limited, Kenya’s largest Coke bottler.