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Bagpiper vs Officers Choice – Vijaya Mallya loses battle

Kolkata, July10 () : Liquor baron Vijaya Mallya lost a court battle with Kishore Chabria over the whisky brand, Officers Choice ownership.

Mallya United Spirits Ltd (USL) had staked claim over the Officers Choice brand owned by Chabria on the ground that its original owners were Shaw Wallace and that after USL taking over it belonged to them. Mallya’s case was that Chabria’s late brother who owned Shaw Wallace had sold the company to USL and the younger one took away the brand to start a new company. He wanted Chabria to return the brand or give the entire money got from the sales.

Officers Choice has in the last two years knocked off USL’s Bagpiper from the top slot and continues its run. This has hit USL due to which it put up the legal hurdle to take over the Kishore Chabria-owned ADB.

USL MD Ashok Kapoor maintains that Bagpiper slipped because the company was more keen on promoting its premium brand McDowell No 1. This brand is sold 40% more than other whisky brands and gives 50% profit after all costs.

USL points out that McDowell’s No 1 brand franchise had emerged as the largest alcohol brand in the world, registering sales a little over 44 million cases in FY12. USL recorded a growth of nine per cent on a large volume base.

With the USL eyeing the emerging market thrust to Southeast Asian markets and Africa, the franchise is only going to consolidate their position. Even as debtors were clamouring for the premium properties to settle their dues, Kingfisher Airlines last Friday started paying February salaries to employees, providing relief to frustrated staff, including pilots who had recently threatened to go on strike.

Kingfisher, which had a debt of $1.4 billion by the end of March, has faced staff agitation and is under pressure from its lenders to come up with a turnaround plan. Pilots claim that they have not been paid  for five months and have gone on strike.

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