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Travel retail market shrinks but malt whisky holds its own

Blended whisky brands declined in the travel retail market according to the latest figures from the International Wine & Spirits Research – but malts have continued to hold their own.

Although whisky remains travel retail’s largest category – more than a quarter (27) of the list are whisky brands – there was a marked tail-off in which more than half of the whisky brands suffered declines, the IWSR reported. But it pointed out that malt whiskies, including Edrington’s The Macallan, Diageo’s The Singleton, Beam Suntory’s Laphroaig and William Grant’s The Balvenie, has outperformed blends, which it said mirrored what has happened on the domestic market.

Gin was one of the few spirits categories to build volumes sales across the channel, seeing growth of 5.7%, while Cognac saw slight growth in the Americas, but struggled in Asia-Pacific and Europe and Vodka showed similarly mixed fortunes.

Overall the travel retail market shrank by -3.3% during 2015, largely on the back of a poorer performance of the top hundred brands, the IWSR pointed out – these brands accounted for 82.6% of the market in 2015, down from 83% the previous year.

In the top ten, only five of the brands were in growth, the report found. Diageo’s Johnnie Walker retained its top spot with volumes of 2,5458.7 k 9L cases, more than two and a half times its nearest rival, Jack Daniel’s, and showing strong growth of 13.4% on last year.

However others fared less well – volumes of Jack Daniels fell 2.5% and although Chivas ousted Absolut to creep into third place on 831.2 k 9L cases, this was largely on the back of vodka brand Absolut’s poor performance, which saw its volumes sales slide -14.5% to 785.5k 9L cases. Bacardi also saw volumes fall -10.3%, making it slip two places to number 7 at 606.8k 9L cases. Meanwhile Pernod Ricard’s brandy brand Martell rose ten places to number ten, with volumes of 363.6 k 9L cases.

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