The Old Master comes to Kenya

December 9, 2011
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Oude Meester premium brandy introduced into the Kenyan market / COURTESY

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 9 – Kenya’s spirits market has just got crowded with the launch of Oude Meester brandy by Distell Winemasters.

Distell Brands Manager Karen Gikunda said that the launch aims to provide high-quality pure and affordable brandies to the growing and discerning segment of the Kenyan population that demands premium offerings.

“Kenyans are now becoming the masters of their own destiny; the young are coming up with their own innovative and entrepreneurial ideas and we see a close fit of the brand and the Kenyan spirit,” Gikunda said.

Oude Meester is the first brand that Distell acquired in 1948 and its introduction into Kenya marks another step in the firm’s desire to create a portfolio of high-quality brandies.

The brandy which comes in three ranges that will retail between Sh1, 650 and Sh7, 000.

While observing that the market is awash with other brands, the manager exuded confidence that Distell would be able to carve a niche for itself and remain competitive.

“I think there is always enough for everyone and everyone has their distinct selling proposition that they come with and fits into the consumer,” she said adding that they would also be taking advantage of customers’ willingness to try new brands.

She was however quick to point out that this was not a ticket for them to be complacent adding that they would strive to understand and create a rapport with their customers to ensure the success of their brands.

“You cannot sell something to a Kenyan consumer without creating a synergy to understand what it is that he is looking for that you can provide,” the manager added while acknowledging that this is one of the lessons that especially South African companies wishing to operate in Kenya have learnt.

Despite the growing demand for premium spirits however, the firm decried the high taxation in the country saying it was stifling the growth of their businesses.

For the country to have a vibrant brandy market however, the government must lower the amount of taxes charged on the drinks, she held.

“If you look at the whole value chain (of spirits), you realise that taxation is about 45 percent and the more taxes you have to pay the more costly the product will be,” Gikunda said.

Besides the impact on their business, high taxation pushes many people to consume the unregulated and illicit liquors, a situation that have led to grave consequences for the entire country.

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