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Marius Fouché to become MD Distell Taiwan

Distell is making two top management changes to accommodate expansion in two growing areas of its business - global travel retail and Taiwan.

After leading the company's duty-free division since 2013 and delivering year-on-year double-digit volume growth to outperform the sector, Marius Fouché has been tasked with unlocking opportunities for Distell in Taiwan, where the company's Scottish Leader brand already dominates the Scotch whisky market.

In his newly created position as Distell Taiwan MD, effective from July, he will be advancing the company's existing infrastructure and expertise in this high-potential emerging market, as a springboard to launch some of its other leading brands.

Taiwan's GDP has been forecast to grow above 3% this year, says Fouché. Rising personal expenditure matched by a rising demand for distinctive global brands, indicated promising potential for top-end spirits such as the prestigious range of Bisquit cognacs, and Amarula that is already sold in over 100 countries. Amarula Cream is the world's second biggest cream liqueur. 

Richard Trimby will fill Fouché’s current role as MD global travel retail. Trimby, who comes with 25 years' experience in the wine and spirits industry in senior commercial and marketing roles, was previously with Treasury Wine Estates having also spent a decade at Diageo in its travel retail division. He joined Distell in 2011.

"I am delighted to be returning to the travel retail where I started my career," says Trimby. "It's an exciting time for the industry and I look forward to working with our customers, building on the excellent foundation established so far. There is a huge opportunity for us to realise the full potential of Distell's unique portfolio of brands."

Fouché says: “The buoyant duty-free channel - worth US$1,159bn in 2013 according to world tourism body UNWTO - is set to grow 3.3% a year and has been dubbed by some observers as the sixth continent of the world, given that over a billion people travel internationally every year.”

He adds that, in addition to the global expertise Trimby would be now be contributing, Distell's duty-free team had been substantially strengthened with the appointment of several seasoned regional general managers, initially in Europe and Asia, and more recently in Africa. 

"When we became a separate business unit in 2013, our first task was to consolidate our presence in Europe, where we already enjoyed good trading relationships and distribution, and to build on these, and then also to evaluate the duty-free potential for our brands in Asia, capitalising on opportunities and strengthening distribution in key markets.

“The division has recently landed important listings in Chinese travel retail and is also building on relationships with retailers in Hong Kong, South Korea, Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand.”

He called Africa's travel retail market beyond South Africa still highly fragmented but with exciting potential in Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria.

"On the African continent, we are working in tandem with the major duty-free retailers to establish a presence for our brands, as international travel hubs evolve and new trading opportunities open up."

According to Fouché, the travel retail division was driving a core of strong global Distell brands, with innovative, occasion-based and seasonal offerings to mark events such as Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day, as well as culturally significant days in specific key markets. 

In addition to Amarula and Bisquit, its core portfolio included the distinctive and the very popular blended Scotch Black Bottle, and Nederburg, which had assembled a collection of optimally aged, duty-free exclusive wines under the specialty Limited Edition Vintage range. To a lesser extent, the division was also focusing on Bunnahabhain's connoisseur single malts, although limited stocks meant the brand was available in selected geographies only.

He says the division's next priority would be the Americas: "Through Amarula, a brand that enjoys considerable support in Latin America's duty-free and duty-paid environments, we have established a good presence for Distell and are now at the stage where we can develop the travel retail potential for some of our other global brands."

28 April 2015 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor