Hite-Jinro Group has unveiled its new vision to enter the global market as it relaunches after merging Korea’s top beer and soju makers into a single liquor giant.
Hite Brewery Co., the country’s biggest beer producer with a 55.8 percent stake in the Korean market as of last year, took over Jinro Co., the No. 1 distiller here, which accounts for almost half of the soju segment. The merger, initiated in 2005, took effect on Sept. 1.
The maker of Hite beer and Chamisul soju uncovered on Monday a corporate identity, slogan and strategies to stay ahead of competitors at home and abroad.
The newest logo features the two company names and the letters “H” and “J” entangled to form a cup-shaped symbol, which the group says signifies “integration” and denotes its vision to “fill the dry world with joy.”
Hite-Jinro set a goal of fetching 2.2 trillion won in domestic sales by 2014, up almost 28 percent from 1.73 trillion won last year. It also aims to more than double its net profit to 488 billion won compared with 226 billion won last year.
As for overseas sales, the group targets 800 billion won ($746.5 million) by 2015, nearly double from last year’s 435.2 billion won. It wants to scale up exports to $200 million by then, up more than 30 percent from about $153 million in 2010.
To that aim, the company said it has set out an “innovation” scheme for all units involving production, operation and management. With product quality as the top priority, it plans to carry out research and development in draft beer and adopt a new distribution system that keeps its drinks fresh.
“Hite-Jinro will strive for synergy from the merger, and constant management innovation to leap forward to become a global liquor company that represents Korea,” a company official said.
Korea is the world’s 13th-largest consumer of alcoholic beverages and the top distilled liquor drinker. Soju similar to vodka but is sweeter and less strong.
As competition toughens and consumers become more selective, the dominance of Hite and Jinro has been threatened by runners-ups hard on the trail.
In the beer industry, Oriental Brewery has gradually bit into Hite’s lead over the past several years with its Cass lineup, narrowing the gap to 6.8 percent in the first quarter of the year, according to the Korea Alcohol & Liquor Industry Association.
Jinro’s Chamisul is also being fiercely chased by Lotte Liquor BG, the producer of Chum-Churum, which means “like the first time” in Korean.
Lotte’s presence in the soju market has swelled every year since the 2005 launch of the mild soju, reaching 14.6 percent in the first three months of the year. Jinro maintained a 48.7 percent share but saw the gap dwindle by 1.3 percentage points on a year-on-year basis, KALIA data showed.
Hite-Jinro is pinning its hopes on its latest Dry Finish beer and its integrated marketing network. Demand for Hite’s Max beer also grew to claim nearly a 10 percent share, it said.
“Our company has been much too complacent about its position over the last five years,” Lee Nam-su, president of Hite-Jinro, told reporters. “We’re planning to penetrate fresh markets overseas such as China, Japan and Southeast Asia for exports.”
By Shin Hyon-hee (email@example.com