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Loch Lomond Group signs China deal with COFCO

Independent Scottish distillers the Loch Lomond Group has announced its expansion into China, having secured a distribution deal with Chinese food and beverage giant COFCO.

The deal will see the group’s full range of whiskies, which include its Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia whiskies, made available to the “fast-growing” Chinese market for the first time through COFCO’s network of more than 1,000 sub-distributors, and in its own stores.

“COFCO is a very ambitious, energetic and innovative organisation with a great team and exciting plans for the future which match our own aspirations both for China and as a group,” said Colin Matthews, chief executive of the Loch Lomond Group.

“The heritage, authenticity and provenance of our brands have proven to be attractive for consumers in China and around the world, who appreciate what our brands represent, as they seek out true authenticity, history, craftsmanship and innovation to find something unique.”

COFCO has partnered with the Loch Lomond Group as part of its own plans to become the number one imported spirits distributor in China, where demand is soaring.

“We believe that the Loch Lomond Group’s brands will have major appeal to a wide spectrum of consumers in China where we are seeing significant growth in demand for premium drinks brands especially Scotch whisky,” said Castle Li, general manager of COFCO Wine & Wine.

Last year the imported spirits market in China grew by nearly 4.5%, compared with 2015, while whisky sales  have increased “12-fold” over the last 10 years, according to the Loch Lomond Group.

Trade statistics from HM Revenue and Customs show that food and drink sales from Scotland to Asia grew by £72 million to £1.055bn in 2016. This included an increase in whisky exports by 3% to £895m.

Sales of imported spirits to Chinese consumers, which have traditionally been purchased as gifts, are expected to grow significantly as the country’s middle class becomes more and more affluent.

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