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Black Tower climbs back towards ‘80s peak

Black Tower is edging closer to the volumes of its 1980s heyday as the German brand reported global sales of over 14 million bottles in the last 12 months.

As Liebfraumilch fell from favour in the 1990s, Black Tower sales declined sharply to below 400,000 cases in 1992. By 2008 its owner Reh Kendermann had pushed this figure back up to 1m cases before many of its key markets were hit by the economic downturn.

This latest growth has been achieved by a combination of a new split colour bottle design, introduced in 2010 and since supported by a series of limited edition releases, as well as a number of range extensions.

Among the most significant of these has been Pink Bubbly, a “lightly sparkling rosé”, which falls under the still wine duty bracket and has seen UK year-on-year growth of 55% since its 2011 launch.

Another important development for the brand has been its contribution to the expanding low alcohol wine category. Reh Kendermann reported 40% year-on-year UK sales growth for this 5.5%abv B by Black Tower range.

Overall, Black Tower is now achieving UK volume sales growth of 11.6% against a total off-trade backdrop of -2% (Nielsen MAT to 20.07.13).

Marketing director Alex Rittlinger suggested that the brand stood a realistic chance of reaching its 1980s annual sales record of 18m bottles. In addition to noting the positive effect of the redesign, targeting of a younger audience and increased SKUs, he highlighted the growth potential offered today by a number of emerging markets.

“We need Russia, South America, countries like Poland, South Korea and China,” he told the drinks business. “That’s our focus now.” Despite its German origins, Black Tower’s anglophone name and unusual design means that it holds only a very small presence in this domestic market.

Indeed, Reh Kendermann managing director Nik Schritz argued that its recent growth “reflects the true strength of Black Tower as a great global brand” as he outlined the next steps for improving on this performance.

“Awards for consistent quality, meeting consumer needs with new products and strongly supporting the brand alongside our retail partners are the secret of success, and will continue to be the foundation for further growth and development of the brand,” he commented.

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