Cockburn's port tins

Symington Family Estates (SFE) is marking the 200th anniversary of Cockburn’s Port with the launch of three limited-edition gift tins for the brand’s Special Reserve.

The black, red and gold tins, which SFE said were the first of their kind for the category, launch in November in retailers including Tesco and Sainsbury’s, at an rsp of £12 - the same as a standard 75cl bottle. Special Reserve is the UK’s bestselling port.

SFE CEO Paul Symington told The Grocer the packaging innovation was the latest step in re-establishing Cockburn’s, which has been a priority for the company since it acquired the brand in 2010. Cockburn’s previously had a number of owners including Harvey’s of Bristol, Allied Domecq, Pernod Ricard and Beam.

“We’ve spent the past four years reviving the brand, and giving it a heart and soul, and it’s back to being the number one port brand in the UK,” added Symington.

The launch of the special packaging continues a strategy introduced last year, when the business ran a consumer ad campaign in the Daily Mail highlighting Port’s associations with Christmas. Symington said the drive, which would return this year, was an acknowledgement of where port’s strengths as a product lie.

“The whole essence of the campaign is that port is about Christmas,” he said. “For years we thought, how do we deseasonalise port? But we’ve decided the thing to do was build to your strengths. If the consumer wants a bottle of port as part of Christmas - like Christmas crackers, Christmas pudding, a roaring fire - then let’s make port a part of that.”

The campaign appears to have driven growth beyond the Christmas period - sales of Special Reserve are up 43.5% in 2015 [Nielsen YTD 15 August], while the Cockburn’s brand is up 30.8% [Nielsen YTD 18 July]. The port category as a whole is up 6% on volumes up 1.6% [to 18 July].

Symington said he expected port to overtake sherry within the next three years. Earlier this month, the governing body for sherry rebranded itself and launched a new global website in an effort to revitalise the drink.