Emperador expands whisky capacity, eyes China operating venture

May 15, 2023

MANILA -Billionaire Andrew Tan’s liquor conglomerate Emperador Inc. is raising bets on the whisky segment with plans to increase capacity by next year and establish a potential new operating “joint venture” in China within the coming decade.

Emperador, the world’s biggest brandy producer, owns single malt whisky company Whyte and Mackay, whose brands include some of the fastest growing names in the industry.

Tan, the chair of Emperador, said during the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting on Monday they would double down on whisky, which grew 18 percent last year although sales were still about half the size of the its roughly P40 billion brandy business.

“We will push forward as a whisky powerhouse,” said Tan, who started Emperador in 1979 and grew it from a small liquor factory in Manila to what it is now today.

During the meeting, company CEO Winston Co said Emperador would allocate P7 billion for capital expenditures—85 percent of which will go to the whisky business as the company taps growing international preference for brands such as Dalmore, whose retail prices start at more than P5,000 for a 12-year-old bottle.

This will help the company bring international sales to half of total revenues by 2025.

Co said their distilleries are currently operating at full capacity and expansion was needed amid their target to grow the business in China, the United States and India in the coming years.

“[W]e are on expansion mode…we have upgraded our facilities and we are building a new distillery for Dalmore,” he said.

Co added the new facility of Dalmore, which operates in Scotland in the United Kingdom (UK), would start operations in the latter part of 2024.

He also hinted at a plan to operate a Chinese joint venture in the coming years.

“We believe that with the opening up of China and with the growing middle class, China is the market to be in and we are positioning ourselves to capture that growth,” Co said.

New trade regulations between the UK and India will also provide a growth boost to whisky sales, said Emperador International CEO Glenn Manlapaz.

“The current situation in India has been very difficult for international brands to penetrate but the pending signing between the UK and India of this trade agreement will unshackle these [growth] barriers,” Manlapaz said.

On Monday, Emperador saw its business sustain growth momentum as net income rose 10 percent to P2.3 billion during the first quarter of 2023 while revenues climbed 23 percent to P15.6 billion.

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