home delivery of alcohol needs standardized policy

Ipsita Das, managing director at Moët Hennessy India, has been in the hot seat for the last six months, driving sales during a difficult period. In an interview, she reflects on the need for a standard policy for home delivery of alcohol. Edited excerpts:

India’s liquor market has seen a shift to premiumization during the covid-19 pandemic, a trend that has benefitted Moet Hennessy India, managing director Ipsita Das said. The company, part of leading French conglomerate LVMH, makes premium wines and spirits such as Dom Pérignon, Moët & Chandon, Glenmorangie and Belvedere. Das, who was announced MD in January explained how her company is navigating the pandemic, and shared her views on the shift to retail sales and home delivery of alcohol. Edited excerpts from an interview:

What has been the impact of covid-19 disruptions on liquor business?

We’ve had some spots of good growth last year in quarter four, but overall, the business has suffered. The entire industry has declined by 30% in 2020. A large part of the decline was on the softer side— beers and ready-to-drink categories. Wine, thankfully, declined only by about 17%, even though there was no on-trade (restaurants and bars) consumption. We did struggle to keep the volume up as channels of businesses were shut. Our volumes came down by 30% plus in domestic market. We operate in travel retail (airports) which is 40% of our business. That saw a big decline because of international travel ban. Having said all of this, we kind of managed to do decently well. For us, it has always been about playing in the premium plus segment.

Consumers actually changed— there was this move towards premiumization and this was not just in India. It happened globally. A huge focus on premiumization has come in. We had been pushing for it for a long time…I think covid did it for us. Overall premiumization has given a boost to my business for sure.