[Exclusive interview]: French roots and a burgeoning world presence.

The recent acquisition of Cutty Sark Scotch Whisky by La Martiniquaise-Bardinet Group highlights the remarkable international growth of this independent, family-run French drinks business. William Ploquin-Maurell, International Brand Manager – Corporate Communication, describes how the dozens of international wines and spirits brands in the corporate portfolio are managed and developed worldwide.

Q: What is the scope of La Martiniquaise-Bardinet Group?
A: The Group owns four, million-case brands, ie, each brand selling more than one million nine-litre cases each year. Those brands are the Scotch Whiskies: Label 5 and Sir Edward’s, Poliakov Vodka and Negrita Rum. The Group’s expertise can also be seen in other categories such as the Saint James Agricole Rhum, Porto Cruz, Single Malt Scotch Whisky Glen Moray and Perlino’s Asti wines.
Testifying to its French roots, the Group portfolio includes traditional French aperitif and spirit brands such as Bardinet Brandy, Saint-Vivant Armagnac, St Raphaël Quinquina and Busnel Calvados.
Success in specific markets is seen in brands like Gibson’s Gin in Sweden and Peterman Jenever in Belgium.
The acquisition of Scotch Whisky brand Cutty Sark, founded in 1923, and with annual sales of 6 million litres, strengthens Group presence in the Whisky industry.

Q: How is international brand marketing structured and managed in the Group?
A: In terms of location there are two main offices: La Martiniquaise, near Paris, and Bardinet, close to Bordeaux.
The La Martiniquaise headquarters houses all the key departments including the Head of Marketing for the following main brands: Label 5 Scotch Whisky, Poliakov Vodka, Saint James Agricole Rhum, Porto Cruz, Glen Turner Single Malt Scotch Whisky, St Raphaël Quinquina, Old Virginia Bourbon Whiskey and Gibson’s Gin. There are some national brands too.
At Bardinet, the marketing team there is responsible for Sir Edward’s Scotch Whisky, Negrita and Old Nick Rums, Glen Moray Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Caraïbos fruit juices, L’Héritier-Guyot Liqueurs, Bardinet Brandy and wines.
The marketing teams for these international brands work with our 38 subsidiaries and production sites where local teams implement the strategic decisions. The local marketing teams also manage their local brands such as Peterman and Smeet in Belgium and Perlino Prosecco in Italy.

Q: What degree of autonomy do local managers have (outside France) to create and direct marketing campaigns?
A: The local marketing teams must respect corporate and design guidelines, but they can adapt them to their local markets and cultures.
For example, we are working with the local Asian marketing team to design specific gift boxes for Label 5 during the Chinese New Year. From time to time we deal directly with our local distributors and their marketing teams.

Q: Which are your international growth brands?
A: The Group is the 5th largest player worldwide in Scotch Whisky which is the flagship category for the Group. In addition to Label 5 and Sir Edward’s Scotch Whiskies, the Group has been investing massively in its future champion Glen Moray Single Malt, acquired ten years ago. Today, Glen Moray performs well in the UK and Australia and has an exceptional future in the booming US market. The acquisition of the iconic Cutty Sark Scotch Whisky brand is a major step forward to accelerate our international expansion.
At the same time, the Group holds the No 1 brand worldwide in Port and Agricole Rhum and has leading positions in Armagnac and Calvados.

Q: What are the Group’s top sales regions?
A: The Group has strong positions in France and Europe with a lot of subsidiaries and production sites in the very heart of the production regions, and South America, Africa and the Middle East. It is developing in North America and Asia.

Q: What is different or unusual about the Group’s approach to international brand management?
A: Founded by Jean Cayard in 1934, the La Martiniquaise Group recorded turnover of more than €1 billion in 2017. The Group’s success lies in its knowledge of wine and spirits and its meticulous management of the industrial tools and raw ingredients that ensure the quality of its products.

Q: What corporate values underpin the Group goals?
A: Our values are:

  • a passion for entrepreneurship; developing the Group and brands as a team
  • creativity through pioneering, breaking with convention, finding new solutions, launching new concepts and promoting new serving methods
  • independence so as to write our history and make decisions for the long-term benefit of the Group
  • responsibility for social, environmental and corporate activities so as to
  • promote the responsible enjoyment of our products
  • the quality of our products is recognized each year at international wine and spirits competitions
  • expertise is assured by employing the best people

Corporate profile: Since its founding, La Martiniquaise-Bardinet family-owned Group has consistently invested in high-performance production facilities in France, Scotland, Portugal and Martinique. The Group’s strength lies on its four pillars of product expertise in whisky, rum, wine and port.