Blavod Extreme Spirits could launch Tequila brand El Diamante del Cielo into markets outside the US by the end of the year, the company's chief executive said today (19 June).

Blavod and Japanese drinks group Suntory, its partner in the venture behind El Diamante del Cielo, launched the brand in the US last October. The UK-based spirits group's CEO, Jeff Hopmayer, told just-drinks that the two companies would look at markets including Mexico, the UK and parts of Asia.

"The first stage is to make the brand a success in the US - and it's moving pretty quickly - then push on from there," said Hopmayer. "We expect to move into traditional Tequila markets but I wouldn't anticipate that to happen before we've got another five or six months under our belt in the US."

Hopmayer said that Blavod and Suntory were looking to become the leading "ultra-premium, luxury Tequila" in the US with El Diamante del Cielo. He added that a series of awards across the Atlantic illustrated the quality of the brand.

"Our Tequila is simply the best - it really stands on its own. People know that if they're looking for something special in Tequila, that's it. If you're making watered down margaritas, it's not the Tequila for you. Nobody owns that top sector yet - that's where we're aiming at."

Blavod earlier today posted an operating loss of GBP2.5m (US$4.6m), down from GBP4.1m the year before. Turnover soared 72% to GBP5.4m thanks to rising sales of the company's Players Extreme vodka range and Blavod black vodka, particularly in the US.

The company also noted the sales growth of agency brands Mickey Finns liqueurs and Molinari Sambuca in the UK and Italian wine Baroncini in the US.

However, Hopmayer hinted that the company would steer clear of adding to its agency portfolio. "I wouldn't think that we'll continue to take on agency brands. We are looking to take on more brands with an equity stake," he said, adding that the company was in talks on that front.

Hopmayer said the business overall was "going in the right direction faster than we thought" with sales up 63% in the first two months of the current fiscal year but he declined to give a forecast on when Blavod would turn an operating profit.