Independent Scottish distillers, the Loch Lomond Group (LLG), is expanding to China after securing a major distribution deal with one of the country’s leading companies.
LLG’s milestone partnership with COFCO, the Chinese agriculture and food & beverage giant, will see the Alexandria based group’s full range of Scotch whiskies made available to Chinese consumers across the country for the first time.
The deal means that the Loch Lomond Group’s portfolio of Scotch brands will now be sold in every region of China through COFCO’s extensive network of more than 1,000 sub-distributors as well as within its own stores network, making China one of LLG’s key export markets.
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.
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. Last year the imported spirits market in China grew by nearly 4.5% compared with 2015. Whisky sales alone have increased 12-fold over the last 10 years.
COFCO launched the Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia whisky ranges to the Chinese market at the recent Chengdu Food & Drinks Fair.
It is now distributing LLG’s High Commissioner blended Scotch (already a leading brand elsewhere in Asia), the full Loch Lomond range of blended, single malt and grain whiskies, the Glen Scotia single malt range and the very rare Littlemill single malt Scotch Whisky from the Littlemill distillery which was founded in 1772.
Colin Matthews, chief executive of the Loch Lomond Group, said: “We’re very excited about our new partnership with COFCO across the fast-growing Chinese market. 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”.
LLG cemented the partnership with COFCO by welcoming Castle Li, general manager of COFCO Wine & Wine, and his executive team to the Loch Lomond Group’s Alexandria malt and grain distilleries as well as its Glen Scotia distillery in Campbeltown.
Castle Li said: “COFCO are determined to use all of our resources, energy and route to market strengths to succeed in bringing the Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia Scotch Whisky portfolios to the Chinese market and its many millions of consumers.
He added: “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”