Sula Vineyards, considered as the pioneer of Indian wine industry has expanded its foothold in Nepal where it entered three years ago. Established in 1997, the Nasik-based winery has a wide variety of award winning wines in its portfolio. Famous for organising various events in India, Sula recently organised a wine tasting event in Kathmandu where the company's Founder and CEO Rajeev Samant was present. In an interview with Sanjeev Sharma of New Business Age, Samant expressed his views on changing landscape of wine market in Nepal along with Sula's business plans. Excerpts:
What is the purpose of your visit?
I am here to promote Sula wine in Nepal. Our brand is here since the last three years. The interest and consumption for our wines is slowly but steadily growing. When we first started we were in 5-6 restaurants.
Now, Sula wines are available in around 30 restaurants and stores in Nepal and the number is growing.
Apart from the business purpose, I am also here for a trekking. I did a trekking expedition at Ghorepani and Poonhill recently.
How are Sula wines being received by the Nepali customers?
Wine market is small in Nepal. But the interest in wine is growing among the Nepali customers. So it is going to be a important market for us.
Who are your target customers?
We are targeting the western lifestyle oriented young professionals of age group 25-40. Kathmandu itself is big city with a lot of potential customers. We will be expanding our customer base in Kathmandu and Pokhara in next five years. We will also look into some of main trekking routes across the country as well.
How is the market competition for Sula?
The competition is tough. There are some big brands from Australia and Chile. But we are making some nice gains in the Nepali market. This time we have some good news for our importers. The prices of some Sula products are coming down which will help them to penetrate the market even further.
What are the USPs of Sula wines?
Sula is the India’s greatest wine. It is the best Indian wine that has won many awards. We hold 60 per cent of market share in India hence the brand is a clear consumer choice in India. Sula is the pioneer of Indian wine revolution.
How is the trend of wine consumption in Nepal?
Just like in India, wine consumption in Nepal is small. But also just like in India it is growing very fast here too. The growth rate is increasing by 15-20 per cent every year and this is nice growth.
How is the prospect of wine market?
The positive growth rate and the liberal policy regarding bar licenses is providing the opportunities. Almost every bar and restaurant has a list of wines in their menus. Five years ago the situation was not like this and it is gradually increasing in the last 3-4 years. This is really encouraging and we are excited to go further.
What are your promotional plans?
In India we organize many wine tasting and other events. Every year we organize big music fest that is called ‘Sula Fest’ where 15,000 people attended the event. This kind of events help in promoting the culture of wine tourism as we also has beautiful tasting room and restaurants in our Vineyards. The venue is near from Mumbai of less than the 3 hours drive. And it is closet Vineyard near to Nepal as compared to other. For Nepali consumers, we are looking to organise more wine tasting events in the upcoming years.
What kind of products are in your portfolio?
We have very classic varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc along with white, red, roses and sparkling wines. The products are available in a wide range of price points. Some are little bit inexpensive and some are some expensive. So there is something for every consumer.
Do you have any specific sales target in Nepal?
We are not pursuing any specific sales target. We are relationship driven rather than target driven. We have great relationship with our importers here. We have established ourselves in the Nepali market at a very early time. We are here to stay and our mantra is slow but steady growth. The growth of 20 percent every year will be quite satisfying for us.