Stella artois beer service lager perfection brand

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Stella Artois

Sales: £492.4m Growth: +0.7%

AB InBev stablemate Budweiser has been all about the football this year - but Britain’s biggest alcoholic drinks brand has been playing a different game.

Two games, in fact, with Stella Artois becoming official lager of the Wimbledon tennis tournament and sponsoring The Open golfing championship. The new deals are part of Stella’s ongoing campaign to align itself with high-profile events, a roster also including the Cannes Film Festival and the Kentucky Derby.

“At Stella Artois we have a huge appreciation for events that celebrate a real sense of occasion and excellence,” says Stella Artois marketing manager Phil Pick. “We’re delighted to be a part of two of the UK’s biggest sporting events.”

An on-pack promotion that kicked off in April gave consumers the chance to win tickets to Wimbledon and The Open, as well as one of 50,000 special edition Stella Artois chalice glasses.

Read this: Britain’s 100 Biggest Alcohol Brands 2014: Sunshine on a Cloudy Day?

Glassware was also a theme for 2013, when Stella gave away 450,000 chalices through in-store promotions and online giveaways. “We have focused on elevating the at-home experience for consumers,” says AB InBev off-trade sales director Simon Harrison.

The brand’s Christmas 2013 activity included the UK debut of its L’Anniversaire advertising push in a three-week campaign supported by social and digital activity. The final frame of the advert showed a seasonal limited-edition bottle design, available exclusively in Sainsbury’s from November.

But despite the festive activity, sales of Stella were weaker this winter than they had been the previous year, with value down 3.9% year on year [13 w/e 25 January 2014].

The spring, however, brought better news for the brand, with value up 4.4% year on year [13 w/e 26 April 2014]. This growth was accompanied by a slight drop in average price compared with the same period a year ago - suggesting an increase in promotional activity - though Stella has been looking to shift away from deep promotions through value-adding activity such as its glassware giveaways and limited-edition packs.

“Our promotional participation was at too high a level and we’ve taken the strategic choice to significantly bring that down,” AB InBev UK and Ireland president Inge Plochaet told The Grocer last August. “Of course, that comes with consequences such as revenue, market share and volume in the short term, leading to something more sustainable in the long term,” she added.

This may be one reason for the relatively sluggish performance by the brand compared with some of its major lager rivals - though, in line with the overall market, Stella’s 0.7% sales growth is well up on the 4.6% slump recorded for the brand a year ago. The growth has been driven entirely by the core Stella Artois lager - with value sales of brand extension Stella Artois 4% static.

And, despite AB InBev’s decision to reduce promotional activity, pricing isn’t entirely under its control. Across the full 12-month period covered by this report, the average price of Stella has fallen year on year - though the drop of one pence per litre to £2.19 is less than the decline in the price of some of its rivals, notably standard Carlsberg and Carling.

One brand to have increased average price - albeit fractionally - is closest rival Foster’s, which has also succeeded in closing the gap between the two brands, from £30m this time last year to £20m. The average price of Stella Artois 4%, meanwhile, has fallen 3p per litre to £1.86.

If Stella is to convince drinkers that it’s worth paying more for, it might have to take a leaf out Foster’s book and innovate more. The last launch for Stella (as a lager at least) was Stella 4, in 2008. 

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Sales: £472.7m Growth: +3.1%

fosters advert beer lager brand

In a market as competitive as mainstream lager, diversification is one way of adding value – and few have embraced diversification with the gusto of Foster’s.

Off-trade sales have grown £14.3m in the past year – but only £3m of that has been generated by the £422m core Foster’s lager.

The bulk of the growth has come from Foster’s Radler, which has risen from less than a million in total off-trade sales a year ago to £9m.

It’s not just the extra sales that come in handy: brand owner Heineken is likely to be making better margins on Radler – a 2% abv blend of Foster’s lager and lemon – than on standard Foster’s as the duty burden on beers at 2.8% abv or lower is considerably less than on standard lager.

Since Radler is selling at a higher average price than standard Foster’s – at £2.06 a litre vs £1.76 – it’s no wonder Radler extended this year with an alcohol-free version and new flavour lime & ginger. It and the original version are now available in bottles and 440ml cans – the latter having been added to the Radler range for the first time. These rolled out in March alongside Foster’s Radler 0.0% abv, a bottled non-alcoholic Foster’s and lemon mix, as Heineken continues to increase its presence in the low and no-alcohol market.

Recent consumer research suggested shoppers might be selecting products like Radler – and other lower-abv lagers – not only because of the reduced alcohol content but because of the flavour.

“If consumers are opting for our products because of taste it’s a testament to the work we’ve done,” says Heineken off-trade MD Martin Porter.

Heineken has also added value to the Foster’s brand with Foster’s Gold. The premium brand extension launched three years ago and is now worth £41.6m.

Growth has slowed compared with this time last year but is still a respectable 6.3% by volume – while value is up 6.8%, suggesting that the extra £2.6m in sales has not come at the expense of margin. Indeed, the premium on Gold leaves Radler in the shade, selling for £2.44 a litre on average – more than 20p per litre higher than Stella Artois and 4p higher than Kronenbourg 1664.

That’s not to say standard Foster’s has been ignored. It still accounts for the lion’s share of marketing investment, and Heineken is looking to boost consumer perception of the quality of the core lager with the introduction of a new marketing campaign and packaging to highlight the brand’s origins in Australia in 1888.

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Sales: £399.5m Growth: +6.7%


A golden year. Sales leapt £24.9m as the off-trade shifted an extra 700,000 litres thanks to NPD, extra ad spend, new price-marked packs for c-stores and new signature serves. 

The August launch of premium Smirnoff Gold has contributed £5.7m to total sales. Diageo off-trade sales director Guy Dodwell says the cinnamon flavoured variant has more staying power than other flavours (lime, green apple and blueberry have been in decline for the past two years): “It isn’t just another flavoured vodka. With real, edible 23 carat gold suspended in every bottle, it’s completely new to the category.” 

Actually, there are several vodkas containing gold and Polish brand Gold Wasser claims to be from a 16th century recipe. But it is certainly the biggest of its type in Britain.

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Sales: £353.8m Growth: -6.2%

carlsberg beer lager pub pump bar advert brand

Carlsberg’s new CEO James Lousada - who joined from Accolade Wines in January - has promised “exciting, customer-focused” plans for the business.

These presumably include turning around its flagship brand, which has been outperformed by the overall beer category and many major rivals. This, suggests Carlsberg, is because the data period for these rankings does not stretch to the middle of the year, where much of its 2014 activity has been weighted. It expects its volumes to have improved by the end of this month.

Marketing plans include the Born To Be Chilled campaign, which takes in the £7.2m Carlsberg Citrus sub-brand - the one part of the Carlsberg portfolio in growth - along with San Miguel and Tuborg.

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Sales: £325.9m Growth: +4.3%

carling cooler summer beer lager alcohol brand fruit

Carling has fully embraced consumer demand for lighter and sweeter drinks, last month rolling 2% abv Fruit Coolers across the off-trade following a successful trial in Asda.

Available in lemon and grapefruit, the drinks contain a blend of fruit juice and lager - rather than just the hint of fruit found in Zest, Carling’s 2.8% abv sub-brand. Sales of Zest, expanded with Red Berries flavour in June, have risen to c£12m in the past year driven by extensions including Ginger and Winter Berries.

Meanwhile, volume sales of core Carling lager have risen 9% year on year, with a decline in average price suggesting this has been driven by promotional activity. Brand owner Molson Coors recently announced it will give away 500,000 Carling pint glasses over the summer.

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Sales: £280.0m Growth: +9.8%

budwiser beer lager brand

Football has - not surprisingly - been the focus of official World Cup beer Budweiser in the past six months.

With Budweiser outperforming most other major beer brands, and our data covering the period before the tournament kicked off, the performance seems all the move impressive as, at a time when so many brands have launched myriad extensions, Bud is essentially still a one-product portfolio in the UK (with the exception of the declining Bud 66 sub-brand, which accounts for just over 1% of total Bud off-trade sales).

With its three-year sponsorship of the FA Cup drawing to a close in 2014, most Bud activity has been centred on global World Cup campaign Rise As One, which made its UK debut in March with TV and outdoor ads. Budweiser also introduced a limited-edition aluminium bottle featuring the World Cup trophy.

Budweiser also ran Open Trials that gave thousands of amateur footballers the chance to play at Wembley Stadium in front of scouts. Football legends and former managers David Ginola, Ray Parlour, Steve Clarke and Alex McLeish selected the best players, who were sent to Rio to play in the Budweiser Cup 6v6 tournament there. A documentary telling the story of Open Trials was broadcast on BT Sport on FA Cup Final day and is now available on YouTube.

But it hasn’t all been about football. In fact, another major piece of Budweiser activity was about as far removed from footie as you can get.

For Christmas 2013 the brand launched Knitbot - a tweet-powered knitting machine that responded to hashtag mentions to knit Christmas jumpers for designated drivers to wear during the festive season. This was accompanied by limited-edition Christmas jumper-themed packaging, with a percentage of proceeds from an exclusive pack available in Asda going to charity RoadSafe.

Budweiser has suffered a small drop in average selling price across the past 12 months, with volume growth slightly ahead of value, though it continues to sell at a considerable premium over many of its rival mainstream lager brands.

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Sales: £278.5m  Growth: +8.9%


With over £10m being pumped into Hardys by its private equity backers, the UK’s number one wine brand is flying high.

The last year has added £22.8m in extra sales, with volumes up 3.6%, as brand owner Accolade has used new branding and greater tiering to reduce reliance on promotion and to play up its quality cues.

New packaging was rolled out in September to reflect the different tiers, followed by a £2.4m outdoor campaign and a three-year sponsorship deal with England Cricket.

Other initiatives included a celebration of Australian Chardonnay - complete with a pop up bar in London’s West End with ex-Blur cheesemaker Alex James - and a new direct-to-consumer website 1853 Club selling higher price rare and limited stock.

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Sales: £265.8m Growth: +12.6%

strongbow cider beer lager pint advert brand

Britain’s biggest cider brand added another string to its bow last year - and hit the bullseye.

Despite being on retailers’ shelves for just 10 months, Strongbow Dark Fruit has already racked up £32.7m in off-trade sales.

It’s a stunning performance that has driven virtually all growth in the brand, with the brand’s Original flavour down 1.9% by value to £215m and sales of Strongbow Pear dipping fractionally.

The launch has tapped directly the flavoured cider boom as consumers developed an appetite for berry flavours. It also coincided with fantastic weather last summer that helped Dark Fruit achieve £12m sales in its first few months.

Speaking to The Grocer earlier this year, David Forde, MD at Strongbow owner Heineken, described Dark Fruit as “the number one fmcg launch of 2013.”

“It was a phenomenal success,” he said. “We have extended Strongbow in a way that is true to the essence of the brand, while delivering on consumers’ desire for variety, accessibility and a slightly sweeter taste profile.”

The performance of Dark Fruit - singled out by buyers as an “excellent” launch - was one of the key reasons Heineken was named Branded Supplier of the Year in last month’s The Grocer Gold Awards.

Heineken is hoping to repeat the success of Dark Fruit with Strongbow Citrus Edge - a 4% cider with lemon and lime - that rolled into the off-trade from mid-March and has been supported with a £5m campaign, part of a £20m investment across the brand.

Advertising for Strongbow Citrus Edge has been designed to piggyback off the success of Dark Fruit, and highlights the contrasting and complementary nature of the two variants.

“We think Citrus Edge will be at least as successful as Dark Fruit,” says Heineken off-trade MD Martin Porter.

Heineken is investing £58m in its Hereford plant to bring all its cider production - including Bulmers and Scrumpy Jack - under one roof. With the move designed to lead to even more innovation in “flavours and pack types”, it’s a safe bet Strongbow will be gaining more strings in the near future.

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Blossom Hill

Sales: £ 248.3m Growth: -1.0%

Blossom Hill red wine brand

The rate of Blossom Hill’s decline has slowed in the past year (the brand was down 4.4% a year ago), but volumes still fell 3.5% as prices rose.

Strong growth in the brand’s sparkling wines and the low-abv Vie range, which rose 229% to £4.9m, were not enough to offset the decline in Blossom Hill’s core offerings. “We’ve changed our focus and pulled away from highly promoted lines, which performed less strongly, as we want to build value,” says head of commercial planning James Peterson.

To this end, two 11% abv Sun-Kissed wines in red and white rolled out in May, aimed at attracting drinkers who prefer a lighter, fruitier style. They are being supported by a wider £2.1m marketing spend, including a new TV ad airing this week [14 July].

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The Famous Grouse

Sales: £189.4m Growth: -2.2%

whiskey grouse

A year ago we revealed how Grouse had knocked Bell’s off its perch as Britain’s biggest whisky brand. But after several years of growth sales have sunk by £4.3m in the past 12 months as we’ve glugged 600,000 (5.5%) fewer litres of Grouse.

Still, all is not lost. Distributor Maxxium claims Grouse is outperforming the wider blended Scotch market thanks to strong price promotions at Christmas and an initiative allowing drinkers to personalise labels online. So far 40,000 have taken part in the scheme, which has been extended into the summer.

Bucking the overall decline for Grouse, peated premium variant Black Grouse has achieved value growth of 5%, thanks partly to a campaign fronted by UK explorers including Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Ben Fogle. The Black variant fetches an average of £23.64 a litre, 27.5% more than the core variant.

Read this: Britain’s 100 Biggest Alcohol Brands 2014: Sunshine on a Cloudy Day?


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Glen’s Vodka

Sales: £177.0m Growth: -3.5%

At £17.35 a litre, it’s still cheap. But hiking the price from £16.38 means it’s no longer the cheapest spirit in our top 100 - Vladivar has stolen that crown - and contributed to an 8.9% volume decline, worth 1 million litres. A lack of flavour variants probably hasn’t helped either.

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Echo Falls

Sales: £161.0m Growth: +4.1%

echo falls white wine brand

One of the few US brands in volume growth (up 2.6%), Echo Falls continued last year’s fashion theme by sponsoring the Clothes Show Live. A new bottle design for the core range emphasises premium cues. A fruit fusion brand extension will help push sales. “We’ve listened to consumers about the style of wine they’re looking for,” Accolade says.

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Sales: £160.0m Growth: +4.5%

Clear as a hermit’s diary; crisp as a vicar’s laundry. So says Philip Glenister in the Gordon’s TV ads. The core offering was down 1.5%, but Crisp Cucumber, launched March 2013, racked up £4.1m.

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Jack Daniel’s

Sales: £158.3m  Growth: +22.6%

jack daniels

Jack’s beekeepers must be due a bonus. After hitting the UK in May 2012, Tennessee Honey’s sales have almost doubled to £21.9m in the past year, accounting for more than a third of the total brand’s growth. While the wider whisky category is on the rocks, Jack has cashed in on the vogue for Americana to attract younger drinkers: Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands says it is particularly popular with drinkers aged 18 to 29.

“This can largely be attributed to the current demand for sweeter tastes and flavours, enabling the brand to leverage connections with a new audience of typically non-whiskey drinkers, who prefer serves with sweeter flavour profiles,” says BBFB American whiskey trade marketing manager Crispin Stephens.

The buzz doesn’t end there. The core Tennessee Whiskey has added £17.1m to its top line, with premium variants Single Barrel and Gentleman Jack surging 38.2% to £5.7m as Brits sunk 1.2 million (25.9%) more litres of shop-bought Jack in the past year.

Big advertising investment and promotions have been key, adds Stephens. The average price of Jack has dipped 2.6% over the past year as a result of gift deals around Christmas and Father’s Day and featured space promotions. If Jack keeps it up, he could soon overtake Grouse as Britain’s biggest whisky.

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Value: £156.1m Growth: -6.6%

Blended whisky is stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand Jack and his bourbon pals are cleaning up on the premium side. On the other hand, declining sales of whisky has turned price into a vicious spiral that threatens to drag everyone in. Just look at Bell’s 8.7% fall in volumes. It has gone from being one of the cheapest blended Scotches to the most expensive in our top 100 as rivals have ramped up deal activity.

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Gallo Family Vineyards

Sales: £ 127.3m Growth: -4.0%

llo wine advert brand

Gallo’s decline has slowed marginally (a year ago it was down 5.2%). The brand is ramping up activity on lighter styles with the addition of the 5.5% abv Summer Rosé and a pink moscato in May.

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Sales: £124.4m Growth: +0.2%

As Captain Morgan (37) sails up our ranking, Bacardi’s looking washed up. It blames the waning popularity of white rum, noting respective category growth of 15% and 16% for golden and spiced.

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Jacob’s Creek

Sales: £114.4m Growth: -8.8%

Sales continued to slide for Pernod Ricard’s Australian brand, despite a revamp at the start of this year and the addition of new Italian varietals - a Fiano and Sangiovese - to its Classics range and a pinot grigio to its Cool Harvest range. Wimbledon played a key role in marketing with a new all-white bottle and on-pack promotion.

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Kronenbourg 1664

Sales: £114.0m Growth: +10.4%

kronenbourg 1664 beer lager cantona advert brand

Brand owner Heineken cried foul when ad watchdogs banned a Kronenbourg ad starring Eric Cantona, and succeeded in getting the ruling overturned. Sales are up more than £10m year on year.

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Sales: £97m Growth: -3.7%

Alcohol-free Beck’s Blue is the only variant of any scale in growth in the Beck’s line-up. The core offering and Vier have seen significant falls in volume, the latter by 2.2 million litres, or 18.6%, after a 2.5% price hike.



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Sales: £93.7m Growth: +38.8%

Off-trade sales of the king of the flavoured ciders have grown £26.2m in the past 12 months as Brits show a growing appetite for sweeter drinks.

The performance - which has made Kopparberg one of the UK’s top 10 beer & cider brands - has been driven by the Mixed Fruit flavour that accounts for almost half the total sales of the brand and has grown £14.9m in its own right. 

Sales have been strong all year but last year’s hot summer was a boon for Mixed Fruit, up 78% year-on-year from June to August. A stylish TV ad push flagged up the flavour and refreshment.

In percentage terms, the fastest mover has been the Strawberry & Lime variant, which has risen 63.1% and brought an additional £10.9m in sales to the brand.

Kopparberg extended its line-up last year with Spiced Apple, which was given a novel push in the run up to Christmas when Londoners were offered the chance to take a ride through Kennington Park on a husky-drawn sled.

This year, the biggest sellers are again being backed with TV ads while the flavours Kopparberg describes as its more ‘eclectic’ variants - Elderflower & Lime and Cloudberry - are currently being supported with an outdoor, experiential, social and press campaign. “It’s our biggest, most focused spend to date,” says marketing head Rob Calder.

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Sales: £93.6m Growth: +0.5%

Baileys Irish cream liquor advert brand


Baileys’ growth doesn’t seem much to shout about… until you delve a little deeper. With the launch of Baileys Chocolat de Luxe last October, Diageo has convinced some that boozy Belgian chocolate is worth double your average Irish cream, even if it does contain less alcohol. Despite costing an average of £30.71 a litre - compared to £15.18 for Original - the variant’s racked up £5m since launch. Now that’s upselling.

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Sales: £92.5m Growth: +14.4%

peroni beer lager advert brand bicycle

If you want Italian style, you have to pay for it. This could be why Peroni is being consumed in such large quantities, despite its price rising 2.7% to a hefty £3.62 per litre. Volume sales rose 11.4% to 25.6m litres. It must be those gorgeous Italian models in the ads.

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Sales: £91.8m Growth: +17.8%

Of the six Scotch blends in the top 100 only value brand High Commissioner (44) is cheaper than Grant’s, whose average price fell 2.1% to £17.73/litre due to promotions. Core Family Reserve has driven growth, with Sherry and Ale Cask both in sharp decline.

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Sales: £91.5m Growth: +22%

Overall sales of Bulmers are booming - although apple and pear are in decline. Its latest NPD - 2.8% abv Five Fruit Harvest and Indian Summer - could spearhead a new category of lower-abv branded cider.

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Sales: £91.4m Growth: -0.9%

The rate of decline in Guinness sales has slowed in the past year, thanks in no small part to a £12.7m marketing spend including its Made of More TV ads and a renewed agreement as the official beer of England rugby. “The quality of the beer and success of our marketing keeps the brand fresh and relevant for consumers,” says owner Diageo.

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Isla Negra

Sales: £89.3m Growth: -11.1%

Sacrificing volume to establish a more “sustainable” shelf price contributed to a 2.3 million litre (14.7%) decline. But listings are now growing as a new consumer campaign for this Chilean wine brand kicks in.

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Russian Standard

Sales: £89.2m Growth: +42.6%

As rivals push posher variants, Standard’s going for the value end. Sustained use of promotions, particularly featured space deals in prime spots in store, have kept the brand’s average price more or less level at £17.66 a litre over the past year, undercutting mainstream rival Smirnoff Red by 6.6%.

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Sales: £89.1m Growth: +31.8%

Kumala has bounced back from last year’s decline, despite a 2.3% rise in price. Growth in distribution, PoS activity and deals have helped. The decline of South African rival First Cape (43) can’t have hurt either. 

San Miguel

Sales: £87.6m Growth: +6.7%

San miguel beer lager advert brand

San Miguel’s growth is partly down to the rising popularity of so-called ‘world lagers.’ The Spanish brand’s low abv extension Fresca, launched in 2012, was its top performer, with sales up 12.1% to £11.8m.


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Sales: £87.1 Growth: -7.5%

There’s been a reversal in McGuigan’s fortunes, as the previous year’s growth was wiped out despite the wine brand’s most successful competition ever, according to McGuigan - a promotion offering the chance to win a trip to Sydney. A new sub-range will launch this summer, and it is looking to increase distribution and leverage its relationship with John Torode to win back sales.

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John Smith’s

Sales: £84.0m Growth: -4.5%

Despite the traditional canned ale market being in long-term decline, it is still a large and relevant market for a lot of consumers, and Heineken’s John Smith’s, at £84m, is still a powerhouse within it.

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Sales: £83m Growth: +16.9%

It’s the sunshine that makes it, apparently. This was the title of a brand campaign last year, which began again this June. It’s working: sales are up £12m, though it’s worth noting prices have stayed more or less flat.

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Wolf Blass

Sales: £81.7m Growth: +6.8%

wolf blass wine yellow white brand

Treasury put two GB cricketing heroes, Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss, into bat in a multimillion pound sponsorship of the Ashes last year, marking a “step change” in visibility for the Aussie wine.

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Concha y Toro

Sales: £80.8m Growth: +16.8%

The Wine Legends ad and the new Devil’s Collection range under the Casillero del Diablo sub brand helped give Concha y Toro an £11.6m boost - while Cono Sur’s Bicicleta range sponsored the UK leg of the Tour de France at the start of this month. Volumes are up 7.8%, reflecting the wider focus on pricier offerings.

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Whyte & Mackay

Whyte & Mackay Sales: £71.5m Growth: +20.4% We’ve glugged down 600,000 (19.9%) more litres of Whyte & Mackay in the past year as the brand ramped up promotional activity. Look no further than Grouse (10) and Bell’s (15) for the victims of its success.

Sales: £71.5m Growth: +20.4%

We’ve glugged down 600,000 (19.9%) more litres of Whyte & Mackay in the past year as the brand ramped up promotional activity. Look no further than Grouse (10) and Bell’s (15) for the victims of its success.


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Captain Morgan


Sales: £69.8m Growth: 11.6%

The Captain - Jack Sparrow, minus the make-up - strode on to our screens last September as part of a ‘Live Like a Captain’ year-long push. And we’ve knocked back an extra 300k litres (8.2%) of Morgan Spiced in the past year, though the standard rum is in decline.

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Stella Artois Cidre

Sales: £66.3m Growth: -0.3%

stella artois cidre cider advert brand

Three years of explosive growth in Cidre value sales came to a grinding halt this year, as flavoured ciders captured the attention of many drinkers. Volume sales have risen slightly, however, driven by sales of multipacks over single bottles.

And with all the value growth in the brand over the past 12 months generated by Cidre’s pear variant, it was a matter of when - not if - the brand would be extended into further flavours.

That happened in May, when AB InBev unveiled Stella Cidre Raspberry in packs of four and eight 330ml bottles, which the brewer expects to appeal more to women, as well as 500ml single bottles. The launch also saw a refreshed look roll out across the brand.

“The fruit cider market has seen strong growth, and Stella Cidre Raspberry brings a sophisticated new variant to the market alongside Stella Artois Cidre Apple and Pear,” says AB InBev off-trade sales director Simon Harrison. “With this launch, Stella Artois is further demonstrating its commitment to and investment in the cider category.”

AB InBev is backing Cidre with TV and outdoor advertising, and the profile of the brand will also be raised by its rollout on draught in May, initially through “premium on-trade outlets”. And the brand is extending its reach abroad, too, rolling out nationally across the US this January.

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Sales: £63.8m Growth: -10.9%

The over-ice serve transformed the market but Magners sales have cooled since its 1990s heyday. Owner C&C Group has this year backed the cider with a text-to-win promotion and promises a raft of NPD.



Sales: £63.7m Growth: -1.7%

At least Tennent’s rate of decline is slower than last year’s. A year ago the brand was down 4.6%. C&C Group is hoping the May launch of Lemon T will help turn things around by tapping the low abv, fruit beer trend.


corona beach beer lager

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Sales: £62.7m Growth: +17.2%

Corona is a beer brand that really shines in the summer (volumes surged 44.7% last summer, for example). But there are clouds on its horizon.

Molson Coors, exclusive UK distributor of the AB InBev-owned brand, has warned there may be a shortage of stock in the UK this year - announcing in May that it had “taken the decision to proactively manage Corona stock until further notice”.

AB InBev says the shortage was the result of increased demand compared with same the same period last year and constraints on supply of glass - with insiders claiming the Mexican brewery had been suffering a shortage of bottles.

With world lager continuing to grow and Latin American culture all the rage following the World Cup, it’s hard to imagine a worse time for Corona to face supply issues.

Sales have grown just over £9m in the past 12 months but more than half that growth came in the 13 weeks to the end of July, highlighting how key the summer months are to such a brand. Conversely, brand growth slowed to just 5.8% in the winter [13 w/e 25 January 2014].

And should consumers have difficulty finding Corona on shelf, there are similar world beer brands suited for drinking in the sunshine that might fill the gap - not least fellow Mexican Sol, which has increased value sales by almost a third in the past year. 

barefoot wine

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Sales: £55.9m Growth: +40.8%

Passing the one million case milestone in 2013, Barefoot has ramped up its digital marketing and adopted Kate Humble as the new face of its beach rescue projects. A new ruby moscato was added in April.

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First Cape

Sales: £55m Growth: -25.8%

First Cape’s lower-abv wines have haemorrhaged sales - and SKUs - at an accelerated pace this year (down 58% to 5.7m), with its contribution shrinking from 18% to 10% of total sales and 22 lines were cut to six as part of a wholesale shake-up of the wider portfolio to rebrand as a purely South African brand. Marketing has been quiet since sponsoring the British and Irish Lions Australia tour last June and July.

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High Commissioner

Sales: £54.7m Growth: -5.6%

Being the cheapest Scotch in the top 100 hasn’t stopped High Commissioner from sinking like a stone. It’s sold for an average of £17.64 a litre over the past year, mostly through independent retailers.

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Campo Viejo

Sales: £53.1m Growth: +28.9%

campo viejo bottle red wine

The Live Uncorked campaign, for which Viejo teamed up with street artists Remed and Okudu, helped drive £11.9m growth, as did a focus on pricier Reserva Rioja. Higher tier wines will again be a key focus for 2014.

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Sales: £52.6m Growth: +10.3%

Heineken is still a relatively small beer in the UK compared with stablemate Foster’s, but as part of an award-winning stable, it’s growing nicely. Nor is it afraid to challenge convention. It kicked off 2014 with the Sunrise TV ad, part of its Dance More, Drink Slow campaign advising partygoers to pace themselves - and shows a clubber turning down a beer for water. It also extended its Champions League sponsorship for four more years.

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Sales: £51.4m Growth: -3.4%

Courvoisier may be courting the hip young things of Shoreditch with a widening array of on-trade cocktails but Cognac just isn’t cool in the off-trade. The core VS lost 3.1% of its value and the pricier VSOP lost 5.3%. Volumes have declined at more than twice rate.

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Banrock Station

Sales: £51.2 Growth: +15.1%

Banrock Station’s investment in environmental projects continued with its ongoing conservation campaign and promotional links with the National Trust. In terms of trading, core wines did well but sparkling sales collapsed 64.4%, while the new lower abv sub-brand, Banrock Station Light, failed to take off, despite gaining listings in Tesco.

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Old Speckled Hen

Sales: £49.2m Growth: +16.4%

old speckled hen beer ale advert fox bar

We’ve supped our way through 2.3 million (15.2%) litres more Speckled, Golden and Crafty as the premium bottled ale market has thrived. In April Greene King launched a fourth Old Hoppy variant.

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Three Barrels

Sales: £48.6m Growth: +4.2%

A marketing rethink, starting with a 2012 pack redesign, is paying off as £2m extra sales testify. It has encouraged drinkers to use brandy as a base for at-home cocktails and as a cooking ingredient.


yellow tail

New listings, wider distribution and an in-store and event sampling campaign in a VW van boosted the brand, even though average price rose 11.9%. “Awareness and trial has worked,” says Yellow Tail. “But we believe it can do more.”

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sales: £45.9m Growth: -14.3%


Other alcopops will be well jel when they hear of WKD’s three-series sponsorship of TOWIE. The show is popular with the brand’s target younger drinkers. Whether it can reverse a £7.6m decline is another question.

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Sales £45m Growth: 0%

New flavoured variants, brighter designs and a tie-in with online bingo site Cheeky Bingo failed to ignite sales. Volumes fell 4%. And in April, the brand had its knuckles rapped by the ASA for ads that intimated alcohol is key to social success.

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Oyster Bay

Sales: £43.9m Growth: -3.1%

Value sales of the core Oyster Bay still wine range are down 4.8% to £42m, with volumes down 14.3% following a significant hike in average price. Sparkling sales were up 58.3%.

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Frosty Jack’s

Sales: £43.5m Growth: +9.3%

Despite a 10% hike in average price to £1.45 a litre, Frosty is still the cheapest brand in our top 100 in terms of price per unit. Considering the stick high-strength ciders get, a 0.7% slip in volumes isn’t bad at all.

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Sales: £43.1m Growth: -5.5%

Martini made a dramatic return to F1 via sponsorship of the Williams team this year, and its unexpected success on the track - leading driver Valterri Bottas is currently ahead of Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel in the Formula One standings - can’t come too soon for this old stager. Despite efforts to encourage younger drinkers to mix Royales (Martini Bianco with Martini Prosecco with lime and mint) at home sales volumes are sinking at three times the rate of sales values. From last month bottles of Bianco have been sporting neck collars to drive the message home. We think the F1 tieup may work better in the long term.

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Sales: £42.6m Growth: +20.9%

New listings for Calvet’s Bordeaux chateaux wines led to good growth for the brand in 2012/13. It continues to climb by offering an affordable alternative to New Zealand sauvignon blancs. With more than 50 international awards for its Reserve vintage wines, Calvet dubs itself the ‘bestselling Bordeaux brand in the UK.’


Coors Light

Sales: £42.5m Growth: +27.2%

coors light beer

Jean-Claude’s doing a Damme good job for Coors Light, although sales growth is slower than last year’s 85.5%. In March the brand launched a new social media push in which consumers share their #Dammecold experiences for a chance to win various prizes and have their submission read by Van Damme.

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Sales: £40.7m Growth: +23.0%


Last year’s scorching summer played a part in Pimm’s explosive growth. But it’s not all down to the sunshine. In April 2013, Diageo launched a blackberry & elderflower variant, which has gone on to rack up an impressive £5.7m, making it one of the most successful new drinks launches of the past year.

“The sun always plays a big part, as Pimm’s is a fantastic and popular drink for summer occasions and parties,” explains Diageo off-trade sales director Guy Dodwell. “However, the launch campaign around blackberry & elderflower has really helped to drive further results for the brand. The growth of blackberry & elderflower is down to a mixture of consumers enjoying a twist on classic Pimm’s, fantastic execution in-store alongside Pimm’s No. 1, and new listings with retailers.”

Diageo is looking to keep up the pace this year with ramped up advertising, adds Dodwell: “Our new campaign featuring illustrations by The Guardian’s illustrator Stephen Collins (see right) showcases the appeal of Pimm’s, no matter the occasion.”

To drum home the message the brand is using the slogan ‘It’s pretty much never not Pimm’s O’Clock.’ They’re nearly right. Sales of Pimm’s Winter Cup, launched in 2005, have plummeted 31.6% to just £600,000, suggesting the brand is still seen primarily as a summer drink.

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Brancott Estate

Sales: £40.5m Growth: +20.5%

Increased investment in the Marlborough brand has paid dividends. A new push launched in April, while NPD includes a Classic sauvignon gris, a new mid-price tier and a 9% abv Brancott Estate Flight.


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JP Chenet

Sales: £39.5m Growth: -28.3%

After an on-pack promotion offering the chance to ‘win a bicyclette’ in autumn 2013 failed to boost sales perhaps a trip to Paris will help. The French wine has again teamed up with cheese brand Port Salut to offer French-themed prizes including a holiday in Paris in a Spot the Boule competition.

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Moët & Chandon

Sales: £39.1m Growth: +8.9%

The UK’s biggest Champagne brands are fighting it out on the tennis court. As Lanson (82) sponsors Wimbledon, Moët has ads featuring Roger Federer in a bid to flog more fizz. It’s working: volumes are up 11.5%.

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Oxford Landing

Sales: £38.1m Growth: +7%

Oxford Landing had a better year after stalling in our 2013 report (value fell 12.4%). New branding in August has been followed by a Tube and black cab campaign, from June promising the chance to get to know a ‘real’ south Australian.

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Villa Maria

Sales: £37.1m Growth: +21.2%

Gains in distribution - particularly of its more premium-tier wines - helped push up volume sales of New Zealand brand Villa Maria. Winning two of a potential 13 IWC great value awards must have helped, while sponsorship of the Bafta lent a bit more glamour too.

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Black Tower

Sales: £36.7m Growth: +10.2%

Black Tower has launched a 9.5% abv white bubbly hot on the heels of the launch of a pink version in May 2013. The brand is sponsoring this summer’s British rom com Walking on Sunshine starring Leona Lewis.

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Vina Maipo

Sales: £36.1m Growth: +6.2%

Increased distribution and a static average price have contributed to the Chilean wine’s success this year, as it grew in value and volume. New marketing and a major redesign featuring clearer tiering kick in from this month from brand owner CTY.

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Sales: £35.9m Growth: +19.5%

Unlike Smirnoff, all of Absolut’s variants are in value growth (though Raspberri volumes have dipped slightly). What’s more, on average the Swedish brand fetches a 22.5% premium over Smirnoff.

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Bombay Sapphire

Sales: £35.2m Growth: +9.3%

bombay saphire

The growing popularity of premium gin continues to be a tonic for Bombay Sapphire. Three years after the launch of its Ultimate G&T campaign, Bacardi Brown Forman says the spirit, still made to a 1761 recipe, is now worth over £111m in the UK.

While the on-trade evidently represents the lion’s share of sales, ongoing promotions are doing their bit, including a summer-long campaign enabling shoppers to buy a balloon glass alongside the spirit in the big four supermarkets so they can make the ‘ultimate’ G&T at home. “The bowl shape of the glass means it is ideal for capturing the aroma of Bombay Sapphire gin and using a stemmed glass helps keep the serve cooler for longer,” says brand director Jon Sampson. “This elevates the everyday G&T experience and allows consumers a premium drinking occasion in their own home.”

Limited-edition decanters and gift packs to celebrate the brand’s move from Warrington to Hampshire and the opening of new state-of-the-art Laverstoke Mill distillery later this year are set to elevate sales further, says Sampson. Both packs will be decorated with graphics by award-winning British illustrator Si Scott, and the gift packs will include a magnifying glass inviting consumers to find five historical dates hidden in the picture for the chance to win a decanter.

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southern comfort

Southern Comfort

Sales: £34.6m Growth: +3.2%

Inspired advertising wasn’t enough to stop Southern Comfort volume falling 1.3%. Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands blames a cut in deal activity, and competitive pricing around Christmas.

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Sales: £ 34.2m Growth: -6.6%

Sales have been hit by the decision to pull back from deep promotional activity. The average price rose 9% as the brand concentrated on PR and social media activity over ads and trade investment.


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Sales: £32.8m Growth: -13.9%

One of the greatest falls down our ranking of the year. The cause? The greatest price hike of the year. A litre of Teacher’s has been selling for £19.29 over the past year, up by a whopping 11.4%.



Sales: £32.5m Growth: +19.5%

cobra beer lager indian advert

Continuing to grow sales outside the restaurant trade, Cobra’s biggest campaign to date features ‘the boss,’ who divides his time between Cobra and life as a luxury underwear manufacturer.

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Smirnoff (RTDs)

Sales: £31.8m Growth: -2.8%

smirnoff red

Smirnoff’s RTD performance is a tale of two halves. Smirnoff Ice continues to melt away with value down 11.5% on volumes down 14.2%. But as one of the original alcopops continues to fall from fashion, its premixes are in strong growth. Diageo also says it has big plans for Ice in the coming year.

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Sales: £29.6m Growth: +65.4%

Rocketing 44 places up the table, the Swedish brand benefited from last year’s excellent summer. It has also been boosted by an ad push for its seasonal winter cider and the launch of apple & guava.

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Sales: £29.3m Growth: +12.3%

We’ve knocked back an extra 100,000 (11.5%) litres of Disaronno. The brand has kept a tight lid on prices and tapped the at-home cocktail trend, encouraging us via TV to mix Disaronno Sours and Martinis.

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Sales: £29.2m Growth: +2.4%

Even single malt is not immune to the fierce price war in whisky. Glenfiddich’s value growth is mostly inflationary; as it has suffered a significant fall in volumes, undercut by rivals such as Jura, £35.61 a litre compared with Glenfiddich’s £41.58, and now Britain’s 102nd biggest booze brand.

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Sales: £29.0m Growth: +31.2%

westons cider

Flavoured ciders are driving much of the growth in the category - but the stellar performance of Westons shows there is still plenty of success to be had in traditional ciders.

The Hereford-based producer last year launched its first-ever TV campaign, and the brand returned to screens this May as part of a £3.5m push that will include activity at events such as next month’s Bristol Balloon Festival.

Westons also had festivals on its mind with the launch of a three-litre bag-in-box version of its Wyld Wood organic cider, and this autumn will be rolling out a mulled cider 2.25-litre bag-in-box under its premium brand Henry Weston.

“We have seen massive growth of mulled cider in the on-trade,” marketing manager Ian Lewis said. “It will also help with cider’s seasonality and extend cider’s drinking occasions.”

Traditional cloudy cider Old Rosie is also getting its first above-the-line campaign, and was gaining “real traction with the off-trade”.

Henry Weston Vintage has also benefited from increased advertising support, and an on-pack promotion to support the Cheltenham Jazz Festival earlier this year. This has helped sales of Vintage grow almost £5m in the past year.

“There is still headroom in the off-trade,” Lewis said earlier this year. “We have a long-term aspiration to see the brand double and we’re well positioned to do that.”

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Sales: £27.6m Growth: -0.9%


Malibu said it was going to ‘liberate the spirit of summer’ last year, with a limited-edition bottle created by fashion designer Sera Ulger and activity encouraging drinkers to use it to mix piña coladas. Alas, it looks like its plans fell rather flat: value and volumes are down.

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Turner Road

Sales: £27.5m Growth: +6.2%

Following a nosedive last year, Californian brand Turner Road appears back on track, with modest volume growth and new listings. The brand has also rolled out new packaging and blends priced for every day.


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Chekov Imperial

Sales: £27.0m Growth: +1.2%

Booker’s own-label vodka’s growth is inflationary; volumes are down. Chekov’s average price has climbed 4.7% to £18.83 a litre, as drinkers trade up to brands such as Smirnoff, now only 2p more per litre.

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Sales: £26.8 Growth: +10.3%

lanson champagne in jackets

Sponsorship of Wimbledon with a new ATL campaign and its latest bottle jacket, and Andy Murray’s 2013 win helped sales grow, but the rise and rise of prosecco and own label Champers has forced Lanson to also invest in more deals, resulting in a 2% fall in price.

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Sales: £26.2m Growth: +39.9%

Twelve months ago we tipped SABMiller’s 5.6% abv Polish lager brand as ‘one to watch.’ We weren’t wrong, with growth accelerating from 23.1% a year ago, catapulting it 30 places up our rankings.

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Veuve Clicquot

Sales: £26.2m Growth: +16.4%

Veuve Clicquot has been experimenting with ageing by submerging bottles in the Baltic Sea. It’s the sort of premiumisation in which a brand of its standing should be involved. And it is the priciest fizz in the top 100. But it’s been forced to run deeper promotions to help achieve a 20% volume uplift.

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Sales: £26.1m Growth: +32%

Torres enjoyed the third-strongest growth of the 32 wine brands in the top 100. Marking Viña Sol’s 50th anniversary with the release of a 2012 vintage helped drive the extra £6.3m in sales.

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Sales: £25.4m Growth: +10.9%

jameson whiskey

Pernod Ricard wants to make the Irish brand ‘synonymous’ with St Patrick’s Day, already the brand’s second-busiest time of year, aided by PoS, a limited edition and promoting the use of ginger ale as a mixer.

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Sales: £25.2m Growth: -13.1%

Namaqua is hoping converting its Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc Chardonnay to Fairtrade will help reverse a £3.8m sales loss for the South African brand and boost UK Fairtrade wine sales by 10%.

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Sales: £25.1m Growth: 107.4%

Desperados has made like a bandit in the past year and is the fastest-growing brand in our top 100 table.

It is the beacon brand of the burgeoning spirits beers market - accounting for about two-thirds of total category sales - and Heineken’s investment since bringing distribution in house two years ago is paying dividends.

None of that investment, insists Heineken, has been used to fund trade promotions - though a slight drop in average price suggests retailers have funded some activity themselves.

Sales have been boosted since March by the launch of mojito-flavoured variant Desperados Verde, which mixes the original drink’s tequila flavour with a hint of mint and lime.

Read this: Britain’s 100 Biggest Alcohol Brands 2014: Sunshine on a Cloudy Day?

Verde is aimed at 18 to 34-year-olds and is designed to tap demand for sweeter flavours and lighter tastes, says Heineken off-trade MD Martin Porter. “We have seen an explosion of flavour innovation across cider and spirits, and are beginning to see a similar pattern with flavoured beers,” he adds.

While there’s every reason to expect Desperados to continue to grow, it is facing increasing competition in the spirit beers category - tipped by Heineken to reach £200m in sales in the next three years.

In particular, it will be interesting to see if AB InBev’s rum-flavoured Cubanisto steals some of its thunder.

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Sales: £25.1m Growth: -3.7%

Despite sherry’s renaissance in the on-trade, where it’s often used in cocktails, sales are falling faster than last year for Harveys. It’s lost £1m from its top line in the past year; the previous loss was worth £300k.

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Holsten Pils

Sales: £24.6m Growth +12.3%

Holsten Pils was big in Britain in the 80s, aided by memorable commercials with Griff Rhys Jones embedded into old Hollywood movies. The ads may be a distant memory and the lager market is much more crowded now yet sales are rising once again. In our 2013 report Holsten Pils was down double digits after a sharp increase in price. This time around, value and volumes are up. That price only inched up 0.4% has surely helped.


crabbies marketing

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Sales: £24.5m Growth: -5.7%

Raspberry and strawberry & lime variants, launched in May last year, haven’t been enough to resurrect this alcoholic ginger beer. The new products have racked up £3.4m, but the core line and the Spiced Orange and Black variants have lost £4.9m combined, dragging overall brand sales down. In April Halewood launched yet another flavoured variant: Crabbie’s Fruits.

Read this: Britain’s 100 Biggest Alcohol Brands 2014: Sunshine on a Cloudy Day?

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Sales: £24.2m Growth: +6.5%

Volume growth is outpacing Jägermeister’s value growth, thanks to an increase in deals. A TV push featuring a band of Nordic types enjoying shots of Jäger after surfing in a near-freezing sea has helped, too.

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Sales: £23m Growth: +19.8%

After falling out of the top 100 last year, Berberana has re-entered our ranking by pushing its Reserva Rioja lines and keeping a tight lid on price. Sparkling sales are less impressive, down 4% to £2.4m.

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Tennent’s Super

Sales: £21.5m Growth: -9.9%

In the political climate - and with police chiefs calling for a national crackdown on super-strength booze - no wonder 9% abv Tennent’s is struggling. A slight increase in average price won’t have helped, and volume sales are down 13%.

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Scrumpy Jack

Sales: £21.4m Growth: 0%

The land of Scrumpyshire lies at the core of Scrumpy Jack’s branding, its website depicting hot air balloons floating across a clear blue sky. Sales haven’t been quite so idyllic: volumes have sunk 6.7%.

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Sales: £21.3m Growth: +1.4%

Martell enters our top 100 more as a result of movements of the brands around it than from any huge initiative from the Cognac. Value growth masks a volume dip. VSOP, a fraction of Martell’s UK sales, fell 23.3% in value.

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Sales: £21.3m Growth: +1.4%

Vladivar’s growth is mostly inflationary; volumes have dipped 2.8%. The only bright spot is the brand’s raspberry & vanilla variant (20% abv), where value growth is up 12.6% on volume up 15.1%.

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Gordon’s (RTDs)

Sales: £20.8m Growth: +20.5%

We’ve spent an extra £3.5m on premixed Gordon’s G&Ts in the past year. TV ads have undoubtedly helped the RTDs, as has the launch of premixed elderflower and cucumber variants.

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Sales: £20.4m Growth: -12.4%

Unless something changes fast, this will be Boddies’ final year in the top 100. The Cream of Manchester has gone sour, since its heyday in the 1990s, losing £2.9m as owner AB InBev continues to look for a buyer for the beleaguered brand. A cynic would blame the decline on the decision by AB InBev to move production to Lancashire. More likely is the fact it’s focused on its priorities, and that today’s drinkers simply prefer PBAs, or premiumised bottled ales.

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Sales: £20.1m Growth: +25.6%

thatchers cider

While rivals are pimping their ciders with ever more exotic fruits in order to achieve growth, there’s no danger of Thatchers jumping on the flavoured cider bandwagon any time soon. Quite simply, it doesn’t need to.

Value sales of the brand’s flagship Thatchers Gold are up 45.9% thanks to new national listings for 500ml bottles of Thatchers Gold in Sainsbury’s and 440ml can multipacks in both Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

It’s also made gains in the convenience sector with One Stop listings for Thatchers Gold 500ml can multipacks and national distribution of Thatchers Gold, Katy, Vintage and Rose on Shell forecourts.

The sales growth has been supported since April by a £6.5m TV ad campaign - its highest marketing spend to date - focusing on the company’s Somerset roots. The ads will be on TV until September. Thatchers also recently signed a three-year deal to become the official cider of the Glastonbury Festival. So the future looks golden for this privately owned West Country brand.

“Our focus has always been on premium apple ciders and we firmly believe this is where the future of the category lies,” says MD Martin Thatcher.

“We’ll continue to innovate and look at new styles of apple cider. Thatchers Gold is the number two brand by volume in the UK on-trade, and this is now being recognised by off-trade retailers too.”

Read this: Britain’s 100 Biggest Alcohol Brands 2014: Sunshine on a Cloudy Day?