Mangrove plans to double in size by exploiting take-home cocktail market

10 December, 2012

Coe Vintners’ premium spirits arm Mangrove UK has laid out plans to double in size in the next three years by targeting the UK off-trade.

The agency already has a £6 million annual turnover but said growth will be driven the explosion in the premium take-home market and a rising trend for making cocktails at home.

It believes Coe Vintners’ success in the on-trade and its links with leading bartenders makes it ideally placed to capitalise.

Commercial director Nick Gillett said: “We are buoyant about the off-trade because there is a rise in entertaining at home and the cocktail take-home cocktail market is taking off.

“Retailers need to show innovation. We are well-positioned because of our understanding of the on-trade.

“We are a long way ahead of the consumers because the bartenders we work with are two to three years ahead with the ingredients they are using.

“We are looking at consumer trends and see spirits with flavour as well as rum, tequila and gin taking off.

“People are starting to have more adventurous liquor cabinets and if retailers capitalise on that the off-trade can do really well.”

Matt Davies, managing director at parent company Coe Vintners, added: “There is a growth in apps on tablets helping people make cocktails at home. The off-trade has to start listing the products.

“The independent shop has a big role to play in that.”

They believe there is “no point” in independents stocking leading brands because it is impossible to compete on price.

The Mangrove portfolio includes Beluga vodka, Herradura tequila, Pisco ABA, el Jimador tequila, Portobello Road gin and Santa Teresa rum among many others.

“We are fortunate because Coe is financially secure so we have the ability to pick and choose,” said Gillett.

“We will never have a 'me too' product that just competes on price.

“We have a portfolio that has allowed retailers to make profits and have a point of difference from their competitors.

“It’s no longer sufficient to have a fancy bottle. People want to know about the liquid.

“If you can offer within the same price bracket as your competitors a better or more local gin or a super-premium vodka that people drink in Moscow, that’s your point of difference.

“Being different and adventurous is likely to retain customers.

“Retailers need to spend time with people who can explain to them how the products are used.

“We do tastings and in-store support for Wine Rack and Spirited Wines. We will support tastings whether you have one store or a thousand.

“If you look at Gerry’s in London they have always got something interesting open. Every new product we put in there comes with a thousand questions from the staff. That’s probably why they are so successful.

“We do a lot of work with Selfridge’s, where the buyer, Dawn Davies, is looking for new things.

“She insists a product comes with tastings and training and consequently they sell more than people who don’t.

“If you want to sell premium products you need to know why they are better and pass that on to your customers. That’s how you move people away from what they see on billboards.

“Spirits education has improved largely. I would like to take credit for that.

“We were the first to go in and train store staff. We do it because our products taste great.

“Our products and our service are just that little bit better than our competitors. I would quite happily put our product portfolio in a blind tasting with anybody in our competitive set. As a group, our sales teams are the most qualified.”

Gillett believes his plan to double the size of Mangrove in three years is “ambitious but not completely pie in the sky”.

He said: “We are positive about 2013-14. We have decided that we are going to have a product in every spirits category.

“We are going to add seven to 10 new products and there will be a stream of positive news. We will soon have a cognac and we are looking at bourbon.

“We have upped our staffing levels this year and we will continue to do that.

“We have no plans to streamline anything. Our biggest challenge is whether we have to relocate our head office because we are busting at the seams.

“We do 65-70,000 nine-litre cases a year in the on and off-trade – 75% is still in the on-trade but we have a couple of listings coming up with Sainsbury’s, eight product listings in Waitrose, products in M&S and a couple of bits in Booker and Macro, so that will be where the growth lies as that off-trade premium market takes off.

“There are some fantastic products and some really good retailers out there so it looks positive.”

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