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Luke Maga to expand Distell's duty-free ops

The Distell Group is continuing its focused expansion of the company's travel retail arm, appointing another heavyweight to the team, this time to lead the company's Asia Pacific duty free operations.

Australian-born Luke Maga (33), based in Hong Kong, who comes with 13 years' travel retail experience in Asia Pacific, has been appointed general manager for the region's duty free business.  He has been tasked with driving the growth of Distell's key spirits brands, Amarula, Bisquit, Bunnahabhain and Black Bottle, while capitalising on the rising appetite for Nederburg wines amongst travellers.

His inclusion in the team comes on the back of double-digit year-on-year volume growth for the South African company's duty-free division.

Amarula is currently the 36th biggest spirit in travel retail, according to IWSR. The brand has just launched a new 30%abv spirit, called Amarula Gold.  Duty-free has been identified as a priority market for the new product. The exclusive Bisquit cognac range has been part of the Distell portfolio since 2009 and since then has been gaining a strong foothold in travel retail. The luxury Bunnahabhain single malt whisky collection and Islay blended Scotch, Black Bottle, were acquired by the company last year, as part of its purchase of Burn Stewart Distillers. Nederburg is South Africa's most awarded winery, winning major trophies, prizes and accolades in the UK, Europe, Australia, the Americas, as well as domestically.

Maga joins Distell from Trivision International, a Hong Kong company specialising in retail design and installation.

He was formerly the Asia Pacific global travel retail manager for Beam Global Spirits & Wine, where he was instrumental in raising the profile of that company's spirits portfolio in a range of key markets across the region by introducing tailored marketing, packaging and activation strategies to suit specific countries. He was previously the global travel retail manager for Maxxium Worldwide in Australia.

Marius Fouché, who heads Distell's global duty free division, said the appointment of a seasoned player such as Maga would allow the group to advance its growth in one of the operation's most important regions. "His conversancy with the Asia Pacific region, his ability to customise retail travel solutions for individual geographies and his success with luxury brands, make his a valuable addition to the team." 

In November last year, Distell appointed Markus Habermann as general manager to handle its duty free business in Europe.

11 March 2014 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor