State cashes in on Absolut Vodka

Sweden's state-owned producer of alcoholic drinks, V&S Group, saw increased sales and continued profit during 2006.

The company improved its results in all areas of the business, with flagship product Absolut Vodka doing particularly well.

After-tax profits increased by 5 percent to 1.57 billion kronor, while net sales went up 8 percent, finishing at 10.34 billion kronor.

“It is pleasing that our focus on profitable growth, a better product mix and lower costs is yielding results. All three business areas are reporting increased profitability for the second consecutive year.

“This demonstrates that we have a stable foundation for continued growth and increased profitability,” said V&S Group’s CEO Bengt Baron in a statement.

Operating profit for V&S Absolut Spirits increased by 9 percent to 1.9 billion kronor.

“Increased sales of the Group’s largest brand, Absolut Vodka, are a result of our strategy of increasing efforts on the US market while focusing on a number of prioritized markets.

“We are increasing our market share in the United States and volumes are continuing to show double-digit percentage growth on most prioritized markets outside the United States,” said Baron.


Swedish Purity in Absolut Vodka brand battle

Swedish upstart distillery Purity Vodka has taken beverage giant Absolut to court, in an attempt to straighten out a branding and marketing dispute.

Swedish Purity in Absolut Vodka brand battle
The Absolute Ice Bar. File photo: Tom Godber/Flickr

Stockholm district court will look into a claim by small Swedish distillery Purity Vodka's complaint that Absolut used the word 'purity' in a marketing campaign that the former claims infringes on the Purity trademark. 

The Dagens Industri business daily reported on Thursday that Absolut Vodka has used the term 'purity vodka' in a series of advertisements targeted at the US market. 

"We thought they should remove the word 'purity', it is our trademark, but they refused," chairman and Purity Vodka co-founder Göran Bernhoff told the paper. 

The complaint lead to Absolut Vodka countering the act by suing Purity Vodka both in Sweden and in the US.

"I'm surprised that they want to scare us, we are a small company," Bernhoff commented. "But we won't give up." 

Absolut Vodka has a long past of fiercely guarding its trademark. 

In 2010, the Swedish distillers sued British broadcasters at the Absolute Radio station. The dispute resulted in a confidential agreement between the two companies, allowing the radio station to keep its name. 

READ ALSO:  Sweden axes new word after Google intervenes

Last year, a hairdresser in Washington state in the US had to re-brand his salon after the vodka giant objected to his use of Absolute in the business name. His British colleagues appear to have stayed clear of disputes so far. A quick yellow pages search revealed on Thursday that there are still scores of Absolute Beauty salons, from Stirlingshire to Cornwall.

In Sweden, meanwhile, there are Absolute Car Towers and Absolute Catering, among seventeen other entries on phone and address directory website spanning cleaners to dentists.

Absolut is owned by French drinks group Pernod Ricard, which acquired the famed Swedish brand in 2008 when it purchased the Vin & Sprit (V&S) group from the Swedish state for 55 billion kronor ($8.88 billion).