By Tulu Chatterjee
Kolkata: A steep increase in state excise duty onIndia-made foreign liquors (IMFL) as well as the imported ones in September had resulted in a major fall in consumption. But year-end festivities have brought back smiles on the faces of liquor merchants in the state. They are now hoping to make up for their losses with bumper December sales. The clubs have also witnessed a major surge in intake of premium alcoholic beverages in the last 15 days.
Shiv Sultania of East India Spirits and Beer Distributors pointed out that the consumption of premium brands has gone up by at least 20% in the last 10-12 days. “December and January are best months for us. This year, it is even vital because the sale was down following a hike in price. We have to see how far this would compensate our loss. But as of now, the trend is good. Interestingly, people are going for premium brands,” he said.
According to Sultania, there was a 10-15% increase in the price owing to excise hike. The revenue was down because there was a de-growth of 20% after September hike. He hopes that the industry as a whole would sell 8 lakh cases of IMFL in December largely because of the spurt in demand during the year-end festive season.
Liquor companies like United Spirits and ABD are witnessing a certain surge in consumption in their premium brands like Antiquity Blue, Signature and Officer’s Choice Blue compared to brands in lower category, said a source. Like IMFL premium brands, imported brands like Chivas Regal, Black Level and Absolut are also in high demand.
Sudip Basu, the food and beverages manager of Tollygunge Club, has also noticed an increase in consumption of premium brands in last 15 days. “The consumption of high-end liquors has gone up by at least 40% in last few days. This includes both premium IMFL brands as well as Scotch and imported vodka,” he added.
Royal Calcutta Gulf Club (RCGC) is also selling more premium liquor in this festive season than last year, said F&B manager M Hasan. However, the F&B head of Bengal Club, Asim Ghosh, was a bit guarded in his observation. “The first few months were not good. But this month, there is a recovery in premium liquor consumption. We hope that the remaining few days of this year and beginning of 2014 will be even better,” he added. Bitty Alexendar, a committee member who looks after the bar in CC&FC, said, “Premium whisky and vodka brands are really doing well. We hope this December will be better than the year-ago period,” he added.
By Tulu Chatterjee