‘Making Moments Matter’ with Bacardi Australia’s MD

January 26, 2024
By Cody Profaca

Luiz Schmidt, Managing Director of Bacardi Australia, reflects on his first year as head of Bacardi Ltd’s Australian branch.

“Since joining Bacardi Martini Australia at the beginning of May, following several years working for the company in Latin America and the Caribbean, I have been so encouraged by the market here in Australia. It is an extremely prosperous country, having one of the most developed and attractive premium spirits markets in the world, with an audience that is both curious and quality conscious. These factors combine to offer us a tremendous opportunity to accelerate the growth of our iconic brands, particularly our core four (Patrón, Grey Goose, Bacardi and Bombay Sapphire) in close partnership with our customers and industry partners. 

Although our market share is comparatively modest to that of Bacardi in core territories such as the US and Latin America, I am a glass-half-full person, so I see this as a positive opportunity for expansion and to connect our brands with new audiences. While the global economy has been significantly impacted this year due to inflation pressures and economic uncertainty, we are still seeing the trend towards premiumisation of spirits continue its upwards trajectory, which affirms our ambition to become the world’s leading premium spirits house, loved for our iconic brands which bring people together for exceptional drinks experiences.

Bacardi has acquired multiple super-premium global brands in recent times, including Angel’s Envy, D’ussé and Teeling Distillery, and we are keen to see how these brands perform in the Australian market. These acquisitions form part of a longer-term strategy to extend and strengthen our portfolio into dark spirits. 

Bartenders are integral to the success of our brands, so another significant ongoing investment that we focus on is training and recruitment of talent in both venues and the retail space. By partnering with the industry to impart product knowledge, encourage creativity, and nurture the next generation of brand ambassadors, we are empowering our talent to share their knowledge and passion with their customers and the wider world. Initiatives such as the Patrón Perfectionists and Bombay Sapphire Stir Creativity competitions really highlight this ambition by placing the spotlight on talented bartenders, building community, and serving up inspiration for drinks professionals across the country.

As a company, our purpose to “make moments matter” is embedded in everything we do. I truly believe that as consumers continue to value quality over quantity and seek out brands with heritage, integrity, and stories to tell, our stable of premium brands will continue to help to enable this intention for people all around the world. We put consumers at the heart of this aspiration because now more than ever, it’s moments of connection that punctuate our lives and bring meaning to an increasingly fast-paced, changing world. 

Company Overview:

Founded by Facundo Bacardi Massó in Santiago de Cuba in 1862, Bacardi Limited is the world’s largest privately held international spirits company, and for more than 150 years has grown to become one of the most recognised names in the global premium spirits market. After merging with Italian alcoholic beverage company Martini & Rossi in 1993, Bacardi has continued to expand its portfolio to over 200 brands and labels, acquiring brands including Bombay Sapphire, Grey Goose, Patrón, Dewar’s, and more recently, D’ussé Cognac, in partnership with rapper Jay-Z. 

Who we are:

Family-owned for more than seven generations, Bacardi employs approximately 9,000 staff globally, with production facilities in 10 countries. Maintaining the same values on which it was founded 161 years ago, the company is built around a team culture that emphasises “the three F’s,” an idea that promotes collective success through “being fearless, treating each other as family, and acting like founders.” 

Schmidt explains: “The fact that the Bacardi family are the sole shareholders means that the company has a very long-term view. “In the Bacardi team, we call ourselves ‘primos’, which is a Cuban word for ‘cousins’ and it’s a very accurate way to describe our culture, our commitment, and how we treat each other. We are like family, so our boardroom discussions can be very intense and with a lot of passion, but as soon as we leave the boardroom, we can still be friends,” he laughs.

D&I Policy:

Although change is slow, the industry is certainly welcoming more participation from women and is developing a much more diverse talent pool across the board, which aligns with our ambition to uphold the inclusive family values that we were founded on. Bacardi is committed to creating a work environment where everyone feels part of the family, has the freedom to express themselves, and an opportunity to contribute to the company’s success. Female staff now make up more than 45 per cent of Bacardi’s workforce, and we are proud to have women in key roles across the company, leading the creation of some of its most iconic brands; names such as Dr Anne Brock, master distiller for Bombay Sapphire; Stephanie Macleod, master blender for Dewar’s; and Noidys Herrera, beverage scientist and rum blender-in-training for Bacardi. Across the company, female staff are supported, empowered, and celebrated through a range of programs including mentorships, training, and leadership opportunities.”

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