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Sapporo to Ally With Bacardi Japan for Selling Wine, Rum

Sapporo Holdings Ltd., Japan’s fourth-largest brewer, will ally with Bacardi Japan Ltd. to sell spirits including Dewar’s scotch, targeting 10 billion yen ($124 million) in annual sales of western-style liquor by 2016.

Sapporo will be the exclusive Bacardi distributor in the country from Oct. 1, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement. The agreement covers 29 brands including Grey Goose vodka, Bombay Sapphire gin, cognac, tequila and sparkling wine.

“We want to make western liquor one of our profit pillars, as beer now is,” Norifumi Sumiyoshi, Sapporo wine and spirits division head, told reporters in Tokyo today.

The brewer and its Japanese rivals are diversifying into spirits from other regions to lure drinkers who have been shifting away from beer to whiskey and cocktails. Sapporo earlier this month said it will begin sales in Japan of makgeolli South Korean liquor made by CJ CheilJedang Corp.

Shipments of beer and beer-like drinks in Japan fell 1.3 percent in the first five months of this year, according to data provided by the nation’s brewers including Sapporo and market leader Asahi Breweries Ltd. Brewery sales have contracted by about 20 percent since the 1994 peak, the data showed.

Sapporo had wine sales of 10.8 billion yen last year, while Japanese local spirits, or shochu, brought in 8.6 billion yen.

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