Problems mount for Virgin Vodka

Virgin Vodka has split with its UK distributor, First Drinks Brands, which has replaced it with Russian vodka brand Stolichnaya.

The move leaves Virgin Vodka with no UK distributor, and puts its future in question.

The Virgin Trading Company has pulled its vodka label out of UK off-licences and supermarkets. It is now seeking a distributor to push the brand in the on-trade – pubs and bars – but has yet to secure a partner.

Virgin Vodka, which was launched in November 1994, will be available in duty-free shops and on Virgin Atlantic Airways.

The brand was withdrawn from supermarkets as a result of poor sales – it has less than two per cent of the market.

James Kydd, Virgin Vodka marketing director, says: “The UK off-trade is dominated by price. Virgin as a brand is not into providing commodities.”

The company will renew its efforts to persuade pubs and bars to sell the brand at designated Virgin Vodka areas. Virgin adopted this strategy when the brand was launched but there was poor take-up. Planet Earth in Newcastle is the only bar which has such an area.

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