Blog: Olly WehringColouring in the grey

Olly Wehring | 10 January 2006

It’s been a day of colourful characters hogging the headlines today. And if the drinks industry has plenty of one thing, then it’s colourful characters.

Karan Bilimoria, the Indian who made good in the UK by personally hawking his Cobra beer around the country’s Indian restaurants in the 1990s, was first up, as details emerged of his company’s flotation later this year. The brewer is eyeing a market capitalisation of US$1bn within the next ten years. Ambitious? Yes. But few would doubt the 44-year-old, who has had so much success in a UK beer market considered stagnant for quite some time now. Not only is he chasing success in the UK, but recent speculation surrounding Cobra has all been about upping its presence in Bilimoria’s home market of India.

Next, we welcome back former Allied Domecq CEO Philip Bowman into the drinks fold. Bowman’s business future has been one of the main talking points amongst spirits industry executives after the dust settled on the Allied sale to Pernod Ricard and Fortune Brands. Would he take the money he earned from the deal and head back to Australia, or would a man of his undoubted talents be tempted back into the fold? At 53 years old, I certainly wouldn’t have blamed him for taking early retirement – would you? But news today that he has joined Scottish & Newcastle as a non-executive director might just suggest that the drinks industry is far too enticing a gig to get out of.

That’s what I’m finding out, anyway.


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