Distributor Maxxium UK is set to go head to head with drinks giant Diageo GB in a bid to attract consumers to its sloe gin brand extension this Christmas.

Maxxium, the distributor of Plymouth Gin, said it was investing heavily in its sloe gin variant in order to encourage consumers to trade up. It said the UK would be the first global market to adopt its new Art Deco bottle, launched this month as part of a £15m spend on the parent brand.

"There is a strong correlation between gin drinkers and sloe gin drinkers and so we expect gin drinkers to trade up at Christmas because it is traditionally a very seasonal product", said brand manager Victoria Bowstead. "A significant proportion of brand investment has gone into developing the new look for Christmas and also for support from in-store magazines."

In September this year rival Diageo also pinpointed sloe gin, under its Gordon's brand, as a key driver for its Christmas earnings. The brand owner said sloe would feature in a sampling programme this season and it would also benefit from a £2.5m spend on marketing activity for the Gordon's brand, positioning it as 'Gordon's - the G in G&T'.

Bowstead said the growing interest in sloe stemmed from growth in premium drinks and cocktail mixers. "Consumers are looking to be more adventurous, particularly at Christmas."

Plymouth Sloe Gin, rsp £13.99, is made from sloe berries immersed in high strength Plymouth Gin.

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