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Between IDL and South Africa-Owned Chapeau Red Wine

By Lolade Odeyemi   |

Nigeria’s wine and liquor market has over the years been dominated by foreign brands, especially from South Africa and Europe. Following the 2008/2009 global recession that led to a drastic fall in demand from established markets in Asia and the Americas, South African wine markers shifted their search light to the Nigerian market, gaining entry through partnership with local distributors, hotels and retail outlets.

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Nevertheless, although a number of these South African wine makers seem to have taken advantage of the evolving drinking pattern of Nigerians to stamp their authority in the Nigerian market, a few home-grown manufacturers have stepped up to the plate, refining and rebranding their offerings, in an effort to be at the forefront of competition in the country’s wine and liquor market. Notable among these homegrown manufacturers are the likes of Intercontinental Distillers Limited (IDL), who have been steadily repositioning themselves to claim a good share of the market.

Intercontinental Distillers Limited is arguably one of Nigeria’s foremost and most distinguished indigenous manufacturers of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, boasting a portfolio of flourishing brands like the very popular Chelsea London Dry Gin, Squadron Dark Rum, Finlays Tonic Wine, Bull London Dry Gin, Bull Dark Rum, Samba Coconut Liquor, Teezers Cocktail Drinks, Derok Café Liqueur, Action Bitters, Commodore Aromatic Schnapps, Veleta Fruit Wine and Eagle Schnapps, which was the first indigenous Schnapps brand in Nigeria

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Amid stiff and intensifying competition, IDL, as it is popularly called, has, over the years, been able to carve a niche for itself, gaining market recognition and increasing its customer base in the face of the steady influx of foreign brands.

Officially throwing its doors of operation open in 1984 with the production of Eagles Aromatic Schnapps, the company also imported and marketed tested brands like SMIRNOFF, BAILEY’S Irish Cream and GILBEYS London Dry Gin to beef up its range of product offerings. However, as the company gained more grounds down the roads, it commenced a series of expansion moves, which saw the birth of indigenous brands like Chelsea London Dry Gin, among others, in 1987. It will be no overstatement to say that some of IDL’s brands like Chelsea Dry Gin are household names in Nigeria today, despite the numerous other foreign brands available in the country.

Yet, in its continued quest for expansion, IDL recently launched a South-Africa-made brand of wine, known as ‘Chapeau’, into the Nigerian market. ‘Chapeau’, which is a French word for ‘I doff my hat’, said to be made from natural grapes from Zidela Grapevine – the oldest grower of quality grapes in South Africa for over a century – comes in three variants: Merlot, Rose and Cabernet Sauvignon, and is said to be good for the heart, having the potential to lower blood pressure, since it is made from real grapes.

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As some market observers continue to disagree with IDL’s move, wondering why a successful indigenous manufacturer like IDL would venture into the marketing of a foreign product at this point, instead of seeking to manufacture its own brand of the product, the Managing Director of the company, Engr. Patrick Anegbe, who spoke at the recent launch of Chapeau in Lagos, has posited that the rationale behind the move was to introduce a good natural wine made from real grapes, which can be a game changer in the Nigerian market, as opposed to the many other wines which are synthetic,” explaining that a lot of wines in the market were made of flavor, alcohol, sugar and additive.

The Brand Manager of the new product, Mrs. Chioma Alonge, who spoke in the same vein, said that the company has great confidence that the wine will be accepted by consumers, adding that South Africa is well known for its vast experience in wine making. According to her, “South Africans have been making wines for over 300 years and are leaders in many markets. Before Chapeau, they have made waves with many brands and are still doing so. Again, the market spread of IDL will be an added advantage. IDL has a good marketing network and this will help us to push the new product.”

It is, however, left to be seen whether this explanation suffices.

By Lolade Odeyemi

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