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You can’t keep a good man down. So there’s no way that one of travel retail’s most irrepressible characters, Wild Tiger Rum founder Gautom Menon, is going to let a global pandemic stop his non-stop innovation programme.
Last year, Gautom and fellow Wild Tiger executive Paul George Vedanayagam famously completed an epic 65-day road trip from Kerala, India to Cannes, France, arriving just in time for the TFWA World Exhibition. The project – dubbed The Roar Trip – was an awareness and fund-raising campaign for tiger conservation, a cause close to Gautom’s heart.
Via phone and social media, The Moodie Davit Report tracked Gautom and Paul’s every kilometre, producing a hugely popular daily column called The Moodie Davitt Roarport.
So what’s been happening with the charismatic entrepreneur (a man who lives and breathes India, Kerala and rum, and who signs off his e-mails, “Have a rum-tastic day”) since the COVID-19 crisis began to escalate in India (the country had over 7,000 cases as of this morning)? Like just about everyone in travel retail, the past few weeks have been a nightmare.
“2020 has been totally flat for the business so far but we are using the time to develop new premium line extensions and also broaden our spirits portfolio,” Gautom told The Moodie Davitt Roarport… sorry, Report. “I’m personally devoting more time to also build the business in other Indian states and duty paid internationally. I’m hoping to see the resilient side of the duty free industry which I have read much about in recent years. This crisis is a first for us.
“This situation has been a rude awakening for us at Wild Tiger Beverages, more so because over 70% of our business is duty free-related, which has now come to a standstill.
“We are particularly worried as this situation delays the launch of our much-anticipated Gindia Craft Gin, for which we secured numerous listings and pre-orders. Most of this has now been deferred.
“At times like these, new brands and suppliers face the brunt as operators/buyers are more than likely to fall back on best sellers from the big suppliers. New listings are unlikely to be on their minds. We hope operators in our industry would recognise innovation and passion brought to life by smaller suppliers and embrace it where they can.
“We at Wild Tiger Beverages are being prudent with our time and resources. We are working closely with our design team and master blenders to curate new extensions and diversifying our spirits portfolio.
“Every brand we introduce comes from years of ideation and prototyping, which we have now fast-tracked for development. Each brand has an authentic relatable story behind it and a distinctive process. Once the situation returns to normalcy we are gearing up to Roar ahead.
“I guess we will call this recovery ‘Roar Trip – Part 2’. As of now, we aren’t contemplating any layoffs within my brand team nor the workforce in Kerala.
“Take good care. And Roar we shall soon. For now let’s Purr at least.”
Agreed Gautom. You can read all about it in The Moodie Repurrt, coming soon.
COMING SOON TO A DUTY FREE SHOP NEAR YOU