Pimm's summer slump

07 September, 2007

This eclectic category has done well to keep sales nearly static at £340 million over the last year, as two leading players - Diageo's Baileys and Pimm's No 1 - started freefalling.

Baileys had a tough year in 2005-6 with sales dropping 6 per cent - but that's nothing like the 25.4 per cent slide it saw this year. Diageo blames a Christmas two-for-£25 offer, which "locked out lighter buyers, where a sizeable amount of Baileys' volume comes from", according to a spokeswoman. But although the brand lost 25 per cent of volumes and 22 per cent of sales, according to Diageo's annual results for 2006-7, it rallied in the second half, gaining 12 per cent sales on the back of ramped-up promotions.

By contrast, new variant Baileys Mint Chocolate had a superb first year, storming into the top 50 brands with 647.6 per cent sales growth.

Pimm's No 1, alongside lager and cider, was the victim of a summer in which it was almost never Pimm's o'clock.

In the year to July 14, sales dropped just 3.2 per cent - but with the whole rainy month taken into account the figures are dramatically different. A 16.5 per cent sales drop was enough to let Bacardi-Martini's Southern Comfort overtake it into second place (and 16th in the overall league), with modest 4.9 per cent growth.

A concerted advertising, marketing and promotions campaign saw Pernod Ricard's Tia Maria sprint ahead 32.4 per cent, after losing 7 per cent of sales in 2005-6.

And InterContinental Brands' lower-alcohol vodka liqueur Vodkat grew sales by 236 per cent to £10.7 million.

Off-trade liqueurs

& specialities value

Year to

11/8/07: £340 million

Year to

15/7/06: £341 million

Change from Aug 2006: -1%

Top five liqueur & speciality brands

1 Baileys -25%

2 Southern Comfort +5%

3 Pimm's No 1 -20%

4 Malibu +8%

5 Tia Maria +32%




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Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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