French spirits major Pernod Ricard’s second largest selling brand in India—Imperial Blue Whisky— is witnessing a hold in its production and sale in Andhra Pradesh after the brand failed compliance norms in random quality checks. The state excise department has effected a ban pending an enquiry, as a possible worker sabotage dealt a blow to the company in the country’s biggest spirits market.
The samples that brought trouble came from Pernod Ricard’s leased unit in the state, Liquors India Ltd, with speculation pointing towards an alleged worker sabotage coming in the wake of a recent unrest. A top excise official confirmed a departmental order putting on hold sale and production of Imperial Blue. This has frozen Imperial Blue’s production at two bottling units as well as its sale from 35 depots in the state.
Imperial Blue sells over 3.8 million cases annually, making it the second largest brand of Pernod Ricard, which is most successful multinational spirits company in India, with a brand portfolio that also includes Royal Stag and Blender’s Pride whiskies. Imperial Blue garners over a million cases from Andhra market and that makes the latest development extremely significant.
— IndiaRetailing Bureau