Crown Beverages, a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa, has signed a deal for distributorship of premium alcohol brands in Kenya, stepping up competition for local dealers.
The deal with Italy's Campari Group involves distribution of Glen Grant Single Malt Whisky, Old Smuggler blended Scotch Whisky, Bulldog Gin, SKYY Vodka and Campari Aperitif among others.
"We were looking for opportunities and one that came up was to do distribution agreement with Gruppo Campari (Campari Group)," said Coca-Cola Beverages Africa Managing Director Daryl Wilson in an interview.
The distribution of premium liquor puts Coke in competition with other local producers and distributors such as Diageo, Pernod Ricard, and Wines of the World in the race to quench the thirst of spirit-imbibing Kenyans.
According to Mr Wilson, CCBA will not be producing alcohol in Kenya, but will be limited to distributing the Gruppo Campari brands. Coca Cola Japan recently ventured into production of a low alcohol drink for the Japanese market.
This, says Mr Wilson, will not be replicated in the Kenyan market, with the company sticking to the manufacture of soft drinks and energy drinks for the local market.
"The head office ( South Africa) was looking for opportunities and we were very happy to take this on as an addition to our portfolio but it was done under Crown Beverages," he said.
The deal was inked late last year. SABMiller teamed up with The Coca-Cola Company and the Gutsche Family Investments (GFI) (then Majority Shareholder Coca-Cola Sabco) to create Africa's biggest soft-drinks company, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA).
Under the deal, The Coca-Cola Company also took over Crown Beverages, SABMiller's local subsidiary which owns the Keringet brand of bottled water.
Coke's latest investment in a multi-billion shilling production and packaging line in Nairobi brought its total local investment to Sh9.3 billion since 2016.
The multinational beverage firm last year signalled intentions to diversify its portfolio, mostly to move away from soda which has recorded depressed sales globally.
"Crown beverages have a liquor licence, they have always been selling alcohol so for us it was easy to put it in that existing entity," said Mr Wilson.
The firm fully owns Crown Beverages and Equator Bottler and holds a majority stake in Nairobi Bottlers Limited, all of which make up CCBA Kenya.