Banks DIH now sole distributor for Smirnoff Red vodka locally
Stabroek News
September 25, 2002

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Banks DIH Ltd has been accorded sole distributor rights for Smirnoff Red vodka within Guyana, a move which is expected to lay the groundwork for the rest of the Smirnoff line of premium products, Banks DIH executive chairman Clifford Reis said.

Speaking at the cocktail reception to mark the occasion at Thirst Park on Friday evening, Reis said that Banks DIH now looks forward to the next step which will grant approval for the bottling of Smirnoff Red vodka and also the importation and/or bottling of Smirnoff ice, "that growing segment of the premium mixed drinks market."

Banks was accorded the right to distributorship through Diageo Venture Americas and the Caribbean. Previously, Smirnoff Vodka was imported through another distributor.

Diageo, the parent company of the Smirnoff brand, holds proprietary control over a list of internationally recognised premium beverages, including Johnnie Walker Scotch whiskeys, Tanqueray gin, Captain Morgan Original spiced rum, Guinness, Smirnoff vodka, Baileys, J&B Scotch whisky, Gordon's Gin, Beaulieu Vineyard and Barton and Guestier.

Reis said that Banks' relationship with Diageo started in February 1990 when the local beverage company obtained the rights to import and distribute Guinness. In May 1991, Banks DIH signed an agreement with Diageo as a bottler of Guinness Stout.

He said it was interesting to note that over the past 11 years, Diageo has experienced positive and sustained growth of the Guinness brand to the extent that Guyana was now judged to be the seventh largest growing market in the world on a percentage basis within the territory, which extends from Argentina to Mexico.

Banks, too, he said, has benefited from the purchase of a high speed bottling plant and the automation of the process, which includes automatic bottle and product inspection for quality assurance. The cellars were renovated and at present the brew house is being renovated, too. Marketing and sales also improved.

In brief comments, the general manager of the Trinidad and Venture Markets of Diageo: Venture America and the Caribbean, Ian Trier said that since their relationship began with Banks over a decade ago, Banks' achievement in bottling and marketing has been outstanding.

Congratulating marketing executives George McDonald and Ramsey Ali for their effort in sales and marketing, he noted that Banks DIH was awarded the Venture Americas and Caribbean Partnerships As F02 - Best Innovation Winner for their concept of the Guinness Bar.

In brief remarks, Minister of Foreign Trade and International Cooperation Clement Rohee said that the partnership between Banks and Diageo was an example of Guyana's commitment to international trade within CARICOM, adding that it was a testimony of regionalisation and globalisation in action. Such a venture, he said, has many potential benefits including that of job creation; making available locally the best brands of local and international beverages to whet the appetite of tourists; and technical expertise to be gained from importing and exporting an international brand. This expertise, he said, could be transferred to the area of marketing domestically-produced brands.

The biggest benefit, according to Rohee, would come about when the demand increases to the point where the product establishes a new clientele and eventually leads to it being bottled locally with great possibility for employment creation, revenue generation and export. (Miranda La Rose)