In the 2021 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum, we heard from Sarah Nichols, Interim Managing Director at Bacardi-Martini Australia.

One of the best ways to characterise last year is to describe it as one where the unknown was a constant. To overcome the disruption caused by such an unprecedented event like a pandemic is a huge achievement, and its one that Bacardi-Martini Australia proudly claims.

Interim Managing Director Sarah Nichols said Bacardi was “all in” throughout the year to deliver several successes.

She said a highlight was the continued focus on launching an innovation plan and that: “whilst there were many challenges connected with this due to COVID-19, it was a true testament to the team who managed to launch two new Bombay Sapphire RTDs concurrently as well as introducing Bombay Bramble to our ‘Bombay house of gin’. In addition to this, the launch of Bacardi Spiced delivered well over our expectations and continues to grow in all channels.”

From these positives, and the five and 10 year global growth ambitions outlined during the year, Nichols described the immediate focus for Bacardi in the year ahead as revolving around innovation on all levels.

“In addition to product innovation, we are also very much focussed on innovation from our digital transformation strategy right through to processes which will streamline our business and how we better interact with our customers,” Nichols said.

Consumption shifts

There are several trends in the industry that Bacardi is watching. Some of the areas in which Nichols said the company is well positioned to leverage include the sustainability movement, premiumisation and the rise of RTDs.

Speaking about the sustainability initiatives, Nichols said: “Bacardi has developed a world first 100 per cent plant-based spirits bottle that is biodegradable in 18 months. This is a huge step in helping reduce the plastic pollution and we look forward to seeing it hit shelves around the world 2023.”

Meanwhile, the excellent results from Bacardi’s premium spirits portfolio shows the company is aligned well with the premiumisation trend. This extends into the progress of the RTD category, as Bacardi contributes to the growing idea that RTDs are no longer cheap, pre-mixed alternatives to glass spirits, outperforming the category with brands like Bombay Sapphire and its now flourishing RTD portfolio.

Founders, Fearless & Family

The culture pillars at Bacardi are Founders, Fearless & Family, and Nichols said the way the team has remained true to these concepts has been key to the company’s success last year.

She said that the team has been: “‘fearless’ in their thinking, trying new initiatives and ways to support our customers during unprecedented times; being ‘founders’ in their mindset and approach and most importantly working together as a ‘family’ and being there for one another and our customers.”

In 2021, the focus and recognition of the people behind the brands is set to continue, including after Simon Owen starts in the role of Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand from April 1, as was recently reported in The Shout.

Read more great insightful stories like this in the 2021 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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