Campari, the Italian drinks group best known for its eponymous bitter aperitif, has signed an agreement with the Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) unit of Australia's Fosters group for the distribution of its premium vodka brand, SKYY.
Under the terms of the deal, CUB's own subsidiary The Continental Spirits Company will distribute SKYY throughout Australia from February 2003. Continental already distributes two value vodka brands, Kirov and Karloff, but this will be the first time it has had a premium brand in its portfolio.
CUB managing director Jim King said: "The agreement with Campari Group for SKYY vodka strengthens our international spirit brand portfolio and is in line with our strategy to secure a greater share of the Australian premium branded spirit market.
"CUB will capture share of the growing premium vodka market with SKYY allocating significant promotional investment to the brand," he said.
Pietro Mattioni, regional director for Campari, added: "With its specialist Continental Spirits sales structure, we expect CUB to aggressively promote and drive distribution of SKYY vodka in Australia."
At more than 500,000 cases sold per annum, vodka is Australia's fastest growing spirit category, according to CUB, with consumer demand for known international vodka brands driving this growth. Despite its Italian owner, SKYY is not widely known in Europe, but is a major player in the US vodka market, and already has a cult following in Australia.
CUB said it would also work with Campari International to identify opportunities in the Australian RTD market, in line with its strategy to capitalise on the growth category of pre-mixed spirit drinks. Campari recently launched Campari Mixx, an RTD product based on its leading brand, in a selected number of European countries, while in the US it has SKYY Blue, a malt-based RTD containing SKYY, which it manufactures and distributes in association with the Miller Brewing Company.