United Spirits, the Indian spirits group formed by the integration of four spirits operations owned by Vijay Mallya, has announced that it is to cut back its brand portfolio by more than half to some 35 brands, which will include 15 key brands.

United Spirits, which is being formed by the merger of McDowell & Co., Herbertsons, Triumph Distillers & Vintners and Shaw Wallace & Co., will finish this financial year with total spirits volumes of 63m to 65m cases. In all, prior to the rationalisation, the merged group would boast 78 spirits brands.

"We will focus on a basket of about 35 brands in the future," said Vijay Rekhi, president of United Spirits. "These are picked on the basis of the economic surplus they throw up, and these brands account for roughly 98% of the overall contribution to the company. We will further subset these 35 brands based on the level of economic surplus they generate, and the frontline brands - about 15 of them - will be treated as power brands.

"We will be ploughing most of our investible resources and time behind these 35 brands as we focus on consolidating our dominant position in the Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) market," said Rekhi.

Among the key brands will be Bagpiper, McDowell No 1, Signature, Royal Challenge, Director's Special, Antiquity, Green Label, Celebration Rum, Old Cask Rum, McDowell No 1 Brandy, Honey Bee Brandy, White Mischief Vodka and Romanov Vodka. In addition, United Spirits, which has over 50% of the IMFL market, will retain certain regional brands deemed to be strategically important. The full brand line-up is expected to be revealed by the end of the year.