SPI Group has confirmed the appointment of Southern Wine & Spirits of America as the distributor of its vodka portfolio in six more US states.

Southern, which handles SPI's Stolichnaya range in Minnesota, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming, has become the exclusive distributor in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Illinois and Washington. The addition of the six states, announced earlier today (11 February), follows SPI's decision in late-2012 to drop William Grant & Sons as its US distributor and set up its own import company.

The new agreement will run for a term of five years.

At the same time, SPI Group said it is rebranding its US operations as Stoli Group (USA). The entity, which took on the new name on 1 January, will launch “reinvigorated marketing for the Stolichnaya brand … along with a trailblazing strategy for flavoured vodkas and a more collaborative approach to distributor relationships”, SPI said.

“Our partnership with Southern is a great opportunity for us to grow our … brands in key markets across the country,” said Stoli Group USA's president, John Esposito. “We believe this will be a valuable partnership, and look forward to learning from everyone at Southern.”

Esposito, who used to be head of Bacardi’s North American operations, came out of retirement last year to take the reins at SPI's US division.