Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Havana Club war

by Roberto F. Campos, 20 February 2011.
Source: The

As with other high-quality Cuban products such as tobacco, for several years this rum has had to face attacks from foreign firms that discredit it in order to buy its legitimate ownership of the brand.
The most recent example of this battle is the case of Havana Club in Europe that has beat the competition to win the Island’s trademark, which guarantees consumer protection.

At the start of the year, this Cuban rum won a new victory in the latest round of the battle against the attempts of the Bacardí brand to take over its competitor in the most disloyal manner possible, as European legal sources testify.

On this matter, The High Court of Spain confirmed the ownership of the Havana Club Cuban rum and the joint venture with Pernod Ricard, expressed in the Cuban rum company’s official statement. The statement explains that for the third time, the court rejected Bacardí’s attempt to dispute the ownership of the famous brand of Cuban rum. The High Court of Spain upheld the ruling on 3rd February, by affirming the Cuban Havana Club’s ownership of the brand in the Iberian country.

Joint Venture’s ownership was confirmed by the Court of First Instance in 2005 and made an appeal to the Madrid division of the High Court in 2007. The Legal Director of Pernod Ricard, Ian Fitz Simons, expressed his pleasure at this new decision and criticised the deliberate attempt by rival Bacardi to take advantage of the success of the Cuban brand.

Havana Club International was established in 1993 as a joint venture between Cubaron and the French marketing company, Pernod Ricard, which, since then has had excellent results in the global market. Lawyers claim that this decision confirms the view that Bacardí abandoned the brand over 30 years ago.

The Director of Pernod Ricard in Spain, Philippe Coutin, added that this decision will allow continued development of the authentic Cuban rum in that European country. Havana Club is a well known brand in Spain and is registered in over 120 countries around the world and has become one of the most profitable companies in the spirits industry. These products make up the second international brand of rum in the world (excluding the U.S.A) and also ranked third in the IWSR premium brand list.

Quality, its guarantee
This Cuban rum is among the fastest growing in the world with double digit increases every year since the 1993 Joint Venture, (Cuba Ron Corporation and the Pernod Ricard Group).

Havana Club sales reached 3.5 million nine litre cases in the fiscal year ending June 2010. In 2009, it was ranked 23 in the Impact Top 100 (Impact database of international brands of premium spirits.) The company is registered in Havana and exports to 124 countries worldwide, with the exception of the United States, where Cuban products are banned due to Washington’s trade and political restrictions.

Pernod Ricard is the co-leader in the wine and spirits world with consolidated sales of 7.81 billion euros in 2009-2010. Created in 1975 by the merger of Ricard and Pernod, the Group has undergone sustained development, based on both organic growth and acquisitions: Amongst which are Pernod Ricard, Seagram (2001), Allied Domecq (2005) and Vin and Sprit (2008).

Pernod Ricard holds one of the most prestigious brand portfolios in the sector: Absolute Vodka, Ricard pastis, Ballantine’s, Chivas Regal, Royal Salute and The Glenlivet Scotch whiskies, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Martell cognac, Havana Club rum.

They also add Beefeater gin, Kahlúa and Malibu liqueurs, Mumm and Perrier-Jouët champagnes, as well Jacob’s Creek, Brancott Estate, the wines Campo Viejo and Graffigna to their list. The prestigious company employs 18,000 people based in 70 markets worldwide, and their executives are highly committed to sustainable development policies as well as promoting responsible consumption. This strategy is supported by three values for its expansion, entrepreneurship, trust and ethical sense; these are the values that are upheld in its legal battle.

Still growing
As it is under constant demand, Havana Club Cuban rum witness increased sales at the end of 2010 its spokesmen stated. Sergio Valdez, the export manager of Havana Club International SA, said that despite the global economic crisis, business is increasing its market presence due to high quality of the product. However, trade was slightly affected because in 2009 the number of boxes sold reached 3.3 million as opposed to 3.4 in the previous year.

At the end of 2010, the figures are that 3.5 million cases of Havana Club were sold, what shows the impact of this brand on the international market. This means that since 1993, when it signed a joint venture with France’s Pernod Ricard, the statistics show a consistent rise in sales.

Despite the slight downturn, in 2009 the Cuban rum company experienced a growth of 13% and the company's at 23 in the top 100 list in publications related to this field, therefore Havana Club has already reached the worlds’ top 25.

A new addition has appeared on the market in the form of a new rum, “Selección de Maestros”, the only one of Havana Club’s spirits that has 45% alcohol, (aged in white oak barrels), and will be limited to a production of 30,000 bottles at 40 euros each. This new recipe is the result of the countries’ rum masters’ efforts and appeared last October at the Duty Free market in Cannes, France.

Today, Havana Club Cuba exports more than 148 countries and hopes to expand its business to other markets such as China and Brazil, the former does not have a widespread market in rum and the latter is a producer of this type of spirit. (PL)

Roberto F. Campos: Journalist for the Economic Edition Journalist, specializing in tourism. (Translated by Betty Poku – Email: bettymarilyn[at]

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