According to Reuters, Radico Khaitan filed a complaint to the Competition Commission of India (CCI) earlier this year alleging Pernod colluded with retailers in the southern Indian state of Telangana.
It allegedly accused the French spirits major of offering retailers “additional discounts and benefits” if they favoured its Royal Stag whisky brand over Radico Khaitan’s 8PM whisky brand – entering into a so-called ‘Royal Stag Agreement’ to ensure the brand a 70% share of shelf space, the news agency reported.
Pernod declined to comment on the allegations or the CCI case. In a statement to Reuters, a spokesperson at the company’s India arm said it has “not been notified of the matter… by any competent authority”.
Just Drinks has also contacted the CCI and Radico Khaitan for comment.
It follows a series of challenges in India for the Chivas Regal brand owner.
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Last October, Indian authorities demanded Pernod Ricard India pay $244m for allegedly undervaluing concentrate imports for more than a decade to avoid its full tax obligations. It followed a long-standing tax dispute with authorities in the country.
The following month a Pernod Ricard India executive was reportedly arrested over liquor licence cartelisation allegations. Local media outlet The Indian Express reported Benoy Babu’s arrest was due to the alleged role he played in giving permits to “a select few [retailers] deliberately”.
In January, Pernod pushed back against “allegations” from India’s Enforcement Directorate that it broke rules governing relationships with retailers in Delhi. The Enforcement Directorate claimed the Absolut vodka owner’s Indian subsidiary asked HSBC to provide loans to retailers that then used the backing to bid for store licences in the city, Reuters reported.
Approached by Just Drinks at the time, a spokesperson said the company would not provide detailed comment on the Enforcement Directorate’s claims in what Pernod described as “sealed and confidential court documents”.
Then in April, Pernod took to the courts to obtain a licence to operate in the municipality of New Delhi, where it claimed it could no longer sell its brands. In 2021, officials in New Delhi introduced an excise policy that aimed to reshape how alcohol was sold and licenced in the region. However, the 2021-22 excise policy was subsequently scrapped and all operators in the market had to re-file for licences.
Several applications for the New Delhi licence have been rejected – the Indian capital refused to grant a licence on the basis the city was investigating the group on several accounts of wrongdoing.
The charges reportedly include giving false information to city authorities in 2021 and violating local regulations around financially supporting retailers in exchange for listings of its brands. Pernod denied any wrongdoing.
In April, the head of the group’s India division also stepped down, amid the licence-related legal challenge.
In July, the court reportedly ruled it would not get involved in the dispute, instead referring Pernod to appellate government authorities in New Delhi.