Christian Porta, the chairman and CEO for European, Middle East and Africa for Pernod Ricard.

Pernod Ricard, one of the world’s top five alcoholic beverages companies, is planning to set up a manufacturing factory in Kenya. The company, whose brand includes Jameson whiskey, is betting on anticipated growth in population and purchasing power among consumers in Kenya to support the investment.

Christian Porta, the chairman and CEO for European, Middle East and Africa said Kenya is one of the four African countries that will benefit from increased investments in the shape of a distilling factory for the middle and down-stream consumers. “We want to be in Kenya in a bigger way and use it to drive our market penetration within the East African region,” he said at a media briefing in Nairobi.

Already, the firm has established a facility in Nigeria where demand for its beverages is on an all-time high. Mr Porta said Kenya will benefit from increased investments in the shape of a new facility, employment and training. “We want to be closer to our consumers through this facility,” he said.

The new facility will distill, package and sale alcoholic drinks targeting the middle and lower categories of consumers. “We have given ourselves a target of 18 months to put everything together and also to get local partners to drive this programme,” he said.

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The new investment is a major plus for Kenya as an investment destination. Kenyan consumers also stand to benefit massively through an expanded bucket list of alcoholic beverages. It comes at a time when other global brands have landed with massive investments targeting the middle and lower-end markets. “We have been importing our brands, but we want a more permanent presence through long-term investment,” said Mr Paul-Robert Boulier, CEO for Pernod Ricrad’s East Africa operations.

The firm will play an even bigger role in the fight against the sale of illicit and counterfeited drinks. He said that while there might be fears about increase in illicit drinks while the counterfeit market appears to be expanding, Pernod Ricard is still convinced about the viability of its business in Kenya.

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“There are many more opportunities in Kenya than the challenges for the kind of business we are involved in,” he said. “Kenya has a market that is more aware about their choices. The population increase is also another opportunity for us and the exposure to the global brands is higher than most might think.”

According to Mr Boulier, the firm’s CEO for sub-Saharan Africa, Pernod Ricard estimates that 40% of the locally consumed products are counterfeits and illicit. “We have had a meeting with the Kenya Bureau of Standards and agreed on a number of measures needed to address this matter,” he said.

He announced that the firm will introduce the diamond mark of quality on its drinks as one of its efforts to fight the problem. “Each bottle will have the diamond mark of quality that allows consumers and authorities to trace its manufacturing history,” he said.

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