The bitter spirit Fernet is one of the most popular alcoholic drinks here in the Czech Republic. Based on Italy's Fernet Branca, Fernet has been made in this country since 1927, when an Italian businessman named Lionello Stock opened a factory in Pilsen. The present-day company Stock Pilsen is keen to expand its market beyond the Czech Republic's borders, and has just started exporting its products to the United States. I spoke to sales director Radek Svoboda, and asked him if the company was concentrating on parts of the US with a relatively large Czech population, such as Chicago.
So you won't be going for the average American consumer, you'll be aiming for people who have some interest in the Czech Republic?
"Our, let's say, case study is the story of Jaegermeister, because Jaegermeister comes from Germany and is a typical German product. Twenty years ago nobody believed that it could run in the United States. Now approximately half of Jaegermeister's production goes to the United States. We want to try it."
Fernet comes in different flavours such as lemon and orange - will they also be sold in the US or will you just stick to your traditional main brand?
"Firstly we will be focused on two Fernets, the classic bitter one and Fernet Citrus, which is so successful here in the Czech Republic."
Is it the case that you already export to other countries around the world? If so, what is the biggest market outside the Czech Republic?
"Yes, mainly these two products. And the third biggest market for us after the Czech Republic and Slovakia is Russia."
Do you have some kind of traditional connection with Russia?
"No, the business case of Russia started just six months ago. Compared to the US it was a little bit easier to receive all the approvals. We have a good company there which is a joint venture company of a Czech private company and a Russian one. It means in this case everything is a little bit faster. But we will see of course, it's a question if it will run in the future as it is promising now."
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