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Japan-Update

Suntory to team with Alibaba to sell booze online in China

First time for Japanese brewer to offer liquor in country's e-commerce market

TOKYO -- Suntory Holdings is partnering with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding to launch online sales of whiskey and other distilled liquors in China.

The Japanese brewer's aim is to use Alibaba's powerful sales reach to cultivate the Chinese market, where growth is anticipated.

Suntory has opened a store on Alibaba's Tmall e-commerce platform through U.S. distillery and group member Beam Suntory and through that site has begun selling Jim Beam and Maker's Mark bourbon and Courvoisier cognac. This is the first foray into online sales in China by Suntory's mainstay distilled liquor business.

Distilled liquor will also be sold through brick-and-mortar stores in Alibaba's corporate group, including RT-Mart superstores and Hema supermarkets. This dovetails with Alibaba's strategy of acquiring brick-and-mortar locations in a bid to fuse online and offline shopping.

Suntory has not disclosed sales figures for its distilled liquor business in China, but they are thought to be small. Beam Suntory opened its first store there in July 2017 and going forward plans to work toward developing the market.

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