KENYA – Beer maker East African Breweries Limited has opened its first retail shop for high-end spirits at the Yaya Centre shopping mall, in which premium brands such as the Johnnie Walker Odyssey will be selling for up to Sh160,000.

The regional brewer has partnered with one of its top distributors to set up the multimillion shilling retail outlet dubbed Berries and Barrels in a bid to increase the uptake of its highly lucrative spirits brands.

The East African Breweries Limited about three weeks ago announced that sales of its spirits brands grew 67 per cent in the six months to December.

“The new shop is in response to the changing consumer with more people willing to try out luxury and high quality brands in line with rising spending power,” said Charles Weru, EABL reserve brands commercial manager.

“The experience offered at Berries and Barrels will help consumers sample and understand our reserve products and, hopefully, upscale them from normal brands to more sophisticated ones.”

Berries and Barrels is a partnership between EABL and Bia Tosha Limited — one of its top beer distributors in the country whose relationship with the brewer spans 18 years. The two firms declined to disclose their respective capital expenditures in the new venture.

The shop will stock brands with retail price tags of about Sh4,000 and above.

It will also sell EABL’s high-end brands like Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Ciroc vodka, Talisker Malt Whisky, Tanqueray Ten gin, and Don Julio tequila, among several others.

Bia Tosha managing director Anne-Marie Burugu said they would also stock luxury wines, cognacs and champagnes — brands which EABL does not currently deal in.

For instance, the vintage Dom Perignon champagne will cost Sh44,800 a bottle while their most expensive cognac — Courvoisier Initale Extra — will retail at Sh67,200 a bottle.

Some of the selling points of the shop, she said, would be scheduled sample sessions for individuals and groups with knowledgeable staff members at hand to give clients personalised service as well as a home and office delivery.

In future, all reserve brands distributed by EABL will be launched at the Yaya Centre shop in Nairobi or one of the three more outlets the brewer says it plans to open in the next two years.

“Customers who step into the shop will have intimate sessions with our staff who will educate them about our different brands, their tastes, and also the preferred occasions to serve them,” said Ms Burugu.

“Normally people walk into stores, pick a bottle, pay for it and simply walk out. Berries and Barrels promises a totally different retail experience for our customers.”

EABL is banking on its high-end spirits brands to grow its earnings, with this particular portfolio exhibiting an impressive performance in the half year results when the brewer’s net profit grew 11 per cent to Sh4.62 billion.

Low-end spirits category – which includes brands like Jebel Gold and Liberty – recorded a 28 per cent increase in sales in the half-year to December, underlining the high potential of the luxury spirits.

Sales of premium spirits like Johnnie Walker Red Label and Smirnoff Vodka grew by 32 per cent.

Over the past six months alone, EABL has introduced two reserve spirits brands into the country — Talisker Storm and Bulleit Bourbon — a pointer to how keenly it is investing in this segment.

March 26, 2015;