By Francesca Landini
MILAN (Reuters) – Campari plans to open several flagship bars for its best-selling spirits in Europe and beyond to help tap into a taste for the Italian aperitif culture, its chief executive said.
The drinks group last week reported a 29% increase in like-for-like sales in the first three months of the year thanks to soaring demand for its Aperol and Campari bitters as bars and restaurants reopened in Europe.
Even if the group’s drinks sold well for home consumption during the pandemic, serving a well-crafted cocktail remains one of the best ways to win new customers, Campari CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz said.
“When it comes to aperitifs, the magic is made in bars, mixing,” he said in a meeting with a small group of journalists.
“In the next five years we would like to have Camparino (bars) in London, New York, Singapore,” he said, unveiling plans to export the model of Milan’s historic outlet for its red bitter, the key ingredient of the Negroni cocktail.
He did not put a price on the planned investment.
“Campari’s choice is consistent with the need of many brands to get closer to end-consumers by offering not only products but distinctive experience contexts that reinforce brand identity,” said Carlo Alberto Carnevale Maffè, Professor at Milan’s SDA Bocconi management school.
Maffè pointed that these initiatives could also allow groups to collect precise data on consumption patterns and better understand their customers.
The group bought back the Camparino bar in Milan’s central square for 5.6 million euros in 2018 and spent a further 6.5 million euros to eliminate the debt accumulated by the outlet and upgrade it.
In 2020 Campari paid 4.2 million euros to secure a space in Venice where the following year it opened Terrazza (Terrace) Aperol in the city where the aperitif became famous as the base for the Spritz cocktail.
“Last year we opened the first Terrazza Aperol in Venice in Campo Santo Stefano… and that will become a franchisee. The idea is to have 50-100 (terraces) in the world,” Kunze-Concewitz said, without giving a precise time-frame.
Despite glass being the number one cause of cost inflation, the group does not plans to turn to other packaging materials.
“We are not thinking of replacing glass. First because glass is the most sustainable, second it does not impact on the quality of the liquid and the taste and then so much magic would be lost with tetra pak or plastic,” Kunze-Concewitz said.
(Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Keith Weir)