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Disaronno resists coronavirus blues to set up UK distribution hub

Published:  10 March, 2020

Disaronno and Tia Maria owners Illva Saronno have today announced that they are setting up a distribution, sales and marketing arm in the UK – the same day that Italy announced it is quarantining its entire 60 million population due to the spiraling outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19).

The new subsidiary, which will go live in January 2021, will bring an end to the company’s 20-year relationship with William Grant & Sons in the UK.

Illva Saronno, makers of the Amaretto-style liqueur, Disaronno, is headquartered in Saronno in the Lombardy area of northern Italy, where 16 million people were put under official lockdown on Saturday (7 March).

Travel restrictions for the entire country, limiting the movements of Italy’s 60 million people, then followed late last night (March 9).

The company did not address the outbreak in the country, but instead focused on its plans to take full control of its brands in Britain under the heading Disaronno International UK, as well as a series of “new innovations”, which will reach the UK market in 2020 and 2021.

“We’ve been in partnership with William Grant & Sons UK for over 20 years,” said Neil Jardine, who will be making the jump from UK country director to MD of the new subsidiary.

“Our relationship is extensive and deep, and as two family run businesses we share many of the same values and principles. Together we have built a truly successful business in the UK, which is testament to the professionalism and dedication that the team at William Grant & Sons UK has continually shown.”

The announcement comes at a difficult time for Italy, and increasingly the world, as governments try to contain the coronavirus epidemic.

Coffee bean and rum liqueur Tia Maria was originally produced in Jamaica, and was sold by Pernod Ricard to Illva Saronno in July 2009.

However, both Tia Maria and Disaronno are now produced in Sarono in northern Italy, at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak there.

Today, Illva Saronno is focusing on looking ahead to the company’s future in the UK, where it said it will continue to work closely with William Grant & Sons on a number of product development projects during the transiition period. 

Jardine promised to “shake up the category” via “two new innovations which we will be bringing to the UK market in the coming months”.

He also made reference to Sicily, one of the company’s core strengths.

“Our portfolio of premium Sicilian wine brands (Florio, Duca Di Salaparuta and Corvo) provides a huge opportunity for us at a time when the UK trade are focusing on Italy and Sicily in particular.

“In addition, we have significantly invested in our Irish whiskey business, creating a totally unique blend of products with a distinctly Irish look and feel. We will be starting Disaronno International UK’s journey during an exciting year for the company as we bring this wonderful concept to the market in 2021,” he said.

Top photo shows Neil Jardine