United Spirits (USL), the spirits arms of the UB Group, is getting aggressive with its retail play in India. The company plans to open a wine bar in its UB City luxury mall in Bangalore and later a large-format lifestyle outlet that will offer all its spirits and wine brands. The outlet will have a restaurant section, a section offering liquor-related accessories and a sports bar.
Vijay K Rekhi, president and managing director of USL, told Financial Chronicle that going forward, more emphasis would be laid on creating the right kind of atmosphere to promote and market the company’s brands. “It is our vision to open a lifestyle retail format with a size of 2,000-4,000 square feet that will have five different segments dedicated to spirits and wines, food, accessories and a sports bar. We haven’t started work on it yet. The wine bar in the UB City mall in Bangalore will be up soon,” he said.
To start with, the wine bar will offer only USL wine brands such as Four Seasons, Zinsi and Bouvet Ladubay in addition to the portfolio of the company’s imported wine brands. According to Abhay Kewadkar, business head (wines) and chief wine maker of USL, the concept of wine bars will be expanded to other cities.
“Over a period of time, we would definitely like to open more wine bars and the formats can be different. They could be owned by us or franchisee. The idea is to expand the category for wine as a product. It will also help in educating consumers on wines. The wine bar, which would covering an area of about 750-1,000 square feet, will also offer accessories such as wine chiller, wine opener, decanter and a wine tasting room as well,” said Kewadkar.
If wine drinking has to be encouraged, USL needs to create an environment where consumers can see different wine brands, consume it and experience it, Rekhi added.
The company is also upgrading and re-branding the World of Spirits retail outlets across India. USL had entered the retail space in 2007 with the World of Spirits outlets and it is now upgrading these with a new look and feel, trained spirits advisors, standard brand displays and more liquor brands. The nine outlets in Bangalore are now being operated under Spiritz & More banner and 16 more will be upgraded and re-branded over the next one year across 11 cities.
Spiritz & More outlets are not owned by USL and the company only provides marketing and store design support with no investments. Rekhi said, “As part of our overall distribution strategy, we are planning to partner with several traditional spirits stores across India.”
Source: Financial Chronicle