Campari CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz kept a tight lip over the mystery company

Campari CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz kept a tight lip over the mystery company

Gruppo Campari's CEO, Bob Kunze-Concewitz, went a little off-piste in a conference call with analysts earlier today (13 May). 

Asked his thoughts on vodka pricing in the US, bluff Bob bemoaned the lack of stability in the category, caused by “second-tier players” that refused to conform to the pricing strategies of the larger, “more disciplined participants”. Kunze-Concewitz even singled one of these smaller labels out - well, almost. He archly alluded to “a very important imported brand, which will be changing importers and distributing networks by the end of the year”, but stopped short of giving a name. A company spokesperson also refused to be drawn on which brand Kunze-Concewitz was referring to.

Which is strange, because he threw out enough clues for an educated guess. In November, SPI Group, which has been making changes around the world to its Stolichnaya distribution network, announced an end to its US agreement with William Grant & Sons. That deal expires at the end of this year, when SPI will set up its own import company.

It looks like we may have found a match.

Naturally, SPI Group declined to comment.

What is perhaps more interesting than Kunze-Concewitz's reticence is that he should care at all about what is happening with Stolichnaya in the US. Indeed, he said that the pricing problems are concentrated around California, and that this does not - yet - seem to be an endemic problem across the country.

One industry observer posited the following: judging from Campari's Q1 results, released earlier today, which showed Italy struggling, profits slumping and organic sales down by almost 10%, could the company have more to worry about than a regional pricing issue in a single spirits category?

For a full round-up of just-drinks' coverage of Campari's Q1 performance, click here.