AWH plans to make Lark Whisky what ‘Penfolds is to Australian wine’

25 November, 2019 by Andy Young

Australian Whisky Holdings (AWH) held its annual general meeting last week and outlined its plans to build Lark Whisky at the hero brand for Tasmanian whisky around the world.

Earlier this year Bill Lark left his role on the AWH Board, but later re-joined the company as a Brand Ambassador. That role now sees Lark able to take his brand around-the-world has part of AWH’s vision, which the company said at the AGM was to make Lark Whisky what “Penfolds is to Australian wine”.

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As part of its vision, AWH said: “We have commenced the investment and prioritisation of Lark with the first-ever national above-the-line campaign, relaunch of the website and a new hospitality [facility].”

That new facility is located at Brooke Street Pier in Hobart and opened earlier this month.

The ‘Tasmania’s first single malt whisky’ advertising campaign will run through the end of 2019 and into 2020, with AWH saying it expects to reach around six million people around the country.

In addition the AGM also heard about the ’10-year vision, five-year plan’ for Lark Whisky, based on five key areas of: Premium; multi-tiered price point; strong Asian consumer and trade appeal; flexible sourcing model; focused execution and superior returns.

AWH said: “Lark will undergo a significant brand transformation in the coming years to properly build the story and differentiate from competitors.”

The plan is to rationalise the Lark Whisky portfolio to a single dark spirit brand and then build Lark as the hero of Tasmanian whisky through a three-tier price strategy.

That strategy will comprise Lark Blend at $99, Lark Classic and $179 and Lark Luxury at over $300. The Lark Blend whisky is currently being worked on by the Master Distiller, CEO and AWH as they utilise experiments from the Nant Distillery to develop a blended option that matches the targeted style of whisky.

This process will be assisted by a 350,000-litre upgrade at the Cambridge distillery which carries a budget of $5m, with “cost competitive economics (COGS) to be operational from FY22”.

AWH is also planning investment in the Lark Visitor Centre located in the heart of Hobart, with a small cellar door at Cambridge, which the company says will be “net more cost effective, more visible and will attract more consumers”.

Overall the AWH plan is to build Lark from a Tasmanian brand mostly distributed locally to a global hero brand, with a focus on Asia. The strategic assumptions that AWH has to achieve that goal include winning the domestic market first, including travel retail in Australian airports over the next two financial years.

In addition AWH plans to build the direct-to-consumer channel and community “through experiential marketing, personalised brands and other initiatives”. Following on from that the plan will be to “focus on exports to select Chinese provinces with seed sales from FY21 (after rebranding) and acceleration from FY23”, and then extend export reach in FY24/FY25 onwards.

AWH also said that it plans to keep Forty Spotted as the hero Tasmanian gin, and that the net sales value of its maturing whisky at maturation date is over $67.7m.