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China Sprouts Moutai Stores
Summary:China's most famous liquor maker is taking a leaf out of Apple's book and opening up own-brand stores across the country.

By Yang Ping (杨萍) and Tan Rui (谭蕊)
Corporation, page 28
Issue 558, Feb 29, 2012
Translated by Ma Zheng
Original article: [Chinese]

Kweichow Moutai Distillery Co, which own China's best known liquor brand, this year plans to open 130 outlets across the country, a person working in the industry told the EO.

The company, which currently has only 30 stores under its own brand, will produce an extra 1,800 tons of the famous white spirit to stock the extra shelves.

After steady price increases, the distiller was heavily criticized by the public, and this prompted the company to attempt a price cap of 1,399 yuan per liter over the Spring Festival.

However, the white spirit, or baijiu, is now selling for up to 2,400 yuan in some stores visited by the EO.

The company declined to say whether its new store strategy was an attempt to bring down the high prices, many of which are set by other retailers that stock the liquor.

A person from one of those companies told the EO that the main buyers of Moutai are big enterprises, governments and the military, none of whom pay much attention to the price.

The inflationary trend can’t immediately be countered by raising production since one bottle of Maotai takes five years to produce.

Maotai has become a luxury brand, with prices for the most sought after bottles rivaling those paid for vintage wines - one buyer paid 1.46 million yuan for a 1958 Maotai.

Maotai’s success has also spawned dozens of fakes, forcing the company to spend over 100 million yuan cracking down on them.

As a way of guaranteeing that consumers thirst for Moutai isn’t sated by counterfeiters, "opening more outlets is less expensive," industry expert Wan Jie told the EO.


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