London-based brewer launches in Kenya, rivals Diageo


Kensington Distillers & Vintners (KDV) London, a premium drinks business with a growing foot-print in Africa, has made an entry into Kenya as it seeks to tap into the lucrative alcoholic drinks market.

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The London-based firm has made an entry with a subsidiary  called Monument Distillers Kenya, a move that now brings competition to current market players among them  world’s largest producers of spirits and beers-Diageo.

Following this development, Sazerac, the leading US spirits company, has granted Monument Distillers the distribution rights for its portfolio in Kenya – the most prominent brands of which are Popov Vodka, Southern Comfort, Myers Rum, Paddy’s Irish Whisky, Firewater, and Buffalo Trace Bourbon.

As part of this transition, Monument will be distributing these products through their distribution partner-Maxam Limited, a local liquor distributor in Kenya and East Africa.

The entry of Kensington Distillers into the Kenyan market follows the successful launch of Monument Distillers Nigeria last year.

Commenting on the entry at an announcement made in Nairobi, Ellis Muhimbise, Managing Director Monument Distillers Kenya said: “It is a great time for us to take on this heritage brand; Popov Vodka. The vodka category is showing favourable growth as Kenya’s strong economic climate continues.”

According to the 2019 International Wine and Spirits Report, the vodka category in Kenya grew 22 per cent annually from 2013 to 2018.

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“Our consumers and stakeholders can rest assured that Popov Vodka remains a trusted brand that will continue to contribute sustainably to the growth of the Kenyan economy,” Muhimbise said.

He went on to explain Monument’s plans to build on the success of Popov Vodka in Kenya: “We are delighted to be given the opportunity to continue to grow the brand and for us to use our newly-formed Monument Distillers Kenya business to accelerate the growth of the international brands we have in our portfolio.”

In addition to representing Sazerac and KDV brands such as Bannerman’s Finest Scotch Whisky, Monument Distillers will be launching a number of new and exciting international brands in Kenya soon under the guidance of MD, Ellis Muhimbise.

Muhimbise has extensive regional experience having spent 12 years at SABMiller and then some time at AB InBev before joining Monument Distillers. His prior experience is set to propel Monument Distillers Kenya forward.

Kensington Distillers & Vintners (KDV) is a premium drinks business with a strong footprint in Southern Africa. KDV has developed a reputation for offering premium drinks of the finest quality, made with exceptional craftsmanship.

The business is run by experienced drinks professionals, Rowan Leibbrandt, Mark Bowman, Robert Hill and Owen Gibbs.

Rowan began his liquor industry career working across multiple European markets in a variety of commercial and marketing roles for William Grant & Sons and liquor giants, Pernod-Ricard, before launching KDV.

Respected liquor industry veteran, Mark Bowman, is credited with managing ABI (the listed soft drinks division of SAB) in South Africa when it listed and doubling its share price.

Mark also led SABMiller Africa – across 18 African markets directly and a further 21 in partnership with the Castel Group – for nine years, growing earnings by double digits and helping to build a total African business of over US$10bn in revenue: a third of the group’s global earnings.

Robert Hill held a variety of senior brand marketing roles at William Grants & Sons over 20 years. He conceived and directed the design of four highly successful Glenfiddich expressions before branching out to consult where he has launched a number of thriving super-premium whisky brands in India.

Owen Gibbs on the other hand has an extensive financial and strategic background. He is a Chartered Account with ICAS (Institute of Chartered Accounts of Scotland) who has worked on a joint venture between Nedbank, People’s Bank and Capital One, held positions at Ernst & Young and then joined Deutsche Bank London’s Portfolio Management team responsible for proprietary equity investments for the bank.

More recently, he spent eight years at Glencore in Switzerland as a commodity trader on the nickel commercial desk before joining the KDV team.

KDV’s Africa distribution businesses are Monument Distillers Nigeria and Monument Distillers Kenya.

In Nigeria, the company represents the fast-growing 1960 Rootz brand, Bannerman’s Finest Scotch Whisky, and will shortly be launching Sazerac’s portfolio in the market.

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Martin Mwita is a business reporter based in Kenya. He covers equities, capital markets, trade and the East African Cooperation markets.

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