India given its demographics is certainly in the consideration set of most progressive wine and spirit companies in the world. In many cases it could be incremental revenue and in some could be brand building or and in fewer; both. Ruffino Wines from Italy showed its commitment to the Indian market at a recently held wine dinner at The Sahib Room and Kipling Bar at the Palladium Hotel. Ruffino from the stable of liquor major Constellation brands has been in the India for some time, imported by Sula selections the import arm of Nashik Vintners it does wines from Piemonte and Tuscany majorly.
Jake Jacob, Vice President Asia for Constellation Brands who was directly overlooking India operations reinstated his confidence in the market by appointing Joe Milner as the Regional sales director and the soiree was for announcing the same. The dinner was hosted by Deepak Bhatnagar, President Sales & Marketing, Sula, Abhishek Malik, Acting GM Palladium Hotel,Shraddha Nathani, Head of Marketing, Sula, Cecilia Oldne, Global Brand Ambassador and Head of International Sales, Sula, Rakesh Jalan, Head of Imports, Sula Selections, Prarrthona Pal Choudhury, DGM , International Brands, Sula and of course Jake and Joe. Jake in good banter said ‘ I used to look after the region first before moving on to a bigger role, however I loved the country so much that I continued looking after it’.
Fruity Orvieto Classico, fruity and perfumed Chianti and woody and floral Chianti Riserva Ducale were served with Indian food with a nouveau touch from the Sahib room Kitchen headed by Chef Angad Rai. The Mulberry and water chestnut samosas, Avocado and Bamboo Shoot Gilawat, the Purvanchali Saag and the Khubani ka meetha (a la halwa) were the highlights of the meal. The event was attended by wine professionals and personalities from wine retail.
Aspri spirits which was found in 2004 by Arun Kumar and Jackie Matai represents some of the finest brands in the world of wines, beer, cider and spirits. Over the last decade Aspri has developed one of the largest distribution networks in India that spreads to over 23 key cities. With its headquarters in Mumbai and branches in Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad along with 7 representative offices, Aspri is a leading player in the international Wines, Beer and Spirits business in India. On occasion of the company celebrating 10 years of success in the industry, we interacted with Arun Kumar the co-founder over a brief email interview.
Q How has been your journey from your first; De Bortoli wines?
It has been a stupendous journey from the first wine portfolio to over 150 wines today. It has been a great learning experience of what to do and what not to do.
Q You started with wines and now we see Aspri with a very diverse portfolio, what is the future path like?
We will continue to consolidate our position and are sure that we will deliver to the Indian consumer. We will continue to build our reach and distribution strength in India and the sub continent and expand further into the travel retail segment in the region. We will only add products if it complements our portfolio mix.
Q You import Austrian wines which are little known in India, How is the market responding to it and is there scope for others from Switzerland, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Greece etc to taste success in India?
Schloss Gobelsburg is one of Austria’s most iconic wines and there are niche customers for the same. We are confident that the wine market will evolve as the Indian consumers are also on the journey of discovery. We believe that there will be space for all in the future to come.
Q Which ones in your opinion are the upcoming markets in India for luxury liquor?
Pune, Chandigarh, Chennai and a few others that are showing promise.
Q What are your 3 favourite tipples from the Aspri portfolio?
Amarula Cream, Cabernet Sauvignon from DBR Lafite and Campari in summer.
Your views on the FSSAI regulations?
Whilst we support the end objectives of the regulations it could have been handled and implemented better.
Would you advise anybody to get into Liquor distribution in the current scenario?
It is a difficult business and one has to keep an eye on the ball at all times and change course at short notice. We will not dissuade anyone from getting into this line of business but whoever wishes to must be very clear that charting course is very challenging.
What is your mantra to sell Liquor in India?
Perseverance and Patience
Lastly, How does Arun Kumar do when he is not selling Liquor?
I spend time with my family which also includes my two pets. I also love to head off towards the mountains whenever time permits.