In April, Simon Owen arrived in Australia, landing fresh from Bacardi in the UK, to commence in his new role as Managing Director of Bacardi-Martini Australia. Owen says it is an exciting time for the company, its brands and its people. He is also grateful to have inherited a successful business and team of people.
“In a year like no other, our team as a whole has remained true to our culture pillars: founders, fearless and family. Being ‘fearless’ in thinking, trying new initiatives and ways to support our customers during unprecedented times; being ‘founders’ in mindset and approach and most importantly, working together as a ‘family’ and being there for one another,” he says.
“The events of the past 12 months have highlighted the need to be adaptive and resilient, and this is no more evident than for our on-premise and off-premise partners. It has been an unprecedented year of challenges both globally and domestically, and now more than ever before, suppliers must add value while being easy to work with.”
For one, this means being led by compelling shopper and consumer solutions that drive mutual performance. One of Owen’s highest priorities in the new role is to get up to speed on the Australian customer landscape and he plans to get in front of a board of customers as soon as he can.
Owen says that the outstanding results currently being enjoyed by Bacardi-Martini brands has been driven largely by the continued rise of cocktail culture and premiumisation - crystallised in a year where creating cocktails at home became the ‘norm’.
"From Grey Goose vodka to Patrón Tequila, Bacardi to Bombay Sapphire and through our range of single malts, liqueurs and vermouths - all of these quality brands offer our customers and consumers opportunities to enjoy the best in world-class spirits," he says.
Last year Bacardi-Martini outlined its five and ten year global growth ambitions and Owens intends to lead his team to focus solidly on this strategy at a local level. This includes a continued drive towards innovation, not just product innovation but also digital transformation right through to processes that will streamline the business and improve customer interaction. The Bacardi-Martini team will also be supported and developed so they are better equipped to deal with the challenges presented by the current global pandemic situation.
Sales results have been strong from Barcardi’s premium spirits, Grey Goose and Patrón, particularly alongside Bombay Sapphire and Bacardi, which both continue to excel. Looking to the remainder of the year and Owens observes a real rise of Tequila, premium whisky and the continued growth of gin both globally and locally. He says that category boundaries are blurred with different cask finishes, ingredient experimentation and premium ready to serve offerings being revitalised.
Owens says, “‘Better for me, better for the planet’ is a phrase likely to have an enormous impact over 2021. We have developed some great solutions to match this trend and will launch these to customers next year through both the off and on-premise channels.”
Globally Bacardi is committed to delivering on its sustainability and environmental goals, and will be driving this at a local level. The business has developed a world-first 100 per cent plant-based spirits bottle that biodegrades in 18 months, a huge step in helping reduce plastic pollution. This environmental innvoation should be on the shelves around the world in 2023.
He concludes, “Bacardí-Martini Australia is committed to developing the industry, customers and the people who work in it. This starts with our employees or “Primos” (cousins in Spanish). We’re proud of being the world’s largest, privately-owned spirits company, nurtured by seven generations of the Bacardí family – and our culture reflects our rich history and heritage; we are fearless, have a founder’s mentality and are ‘family’ to the core.”