(Bloomberg) -- Davide Campari-Milano NV’s new Chief Executive Officer Matteo Fantacchiotti says he wants to tap the “enormous” potential of the distiller’s popular Aperol beverage, focusing on growth in Asia while also continuing to hunt for development opportunities in the region as well as in the US. 

“I believe over the next five to ten years Asia will account for 15% to 20% of our global sales,” Fantacchiotti told Bloomberg during his first public appearance as chief of the Milan-based company. 

Fantacchiotti was appointed to the top job following the retirement of longtime CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz, who oversaw more than 20 acquisitions during his tenure.

“Asia has become a strategic priority for the group in 2020,” the CEO said. “First we gave priority to Europe, then to the US, which is our number-one market, and now it’s time for Asia.”

The plan in China is to initially focus on “cities close to Hong Kong and with favorable weather,” he said. Last year, the Aperol brand accounted for 24% of the group’s sales and grew by triple digits in China and India, according to an investor presentation. Overall, the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 8% of Campari group sales. 

Fantacchiotti, who spearheaded Campari’s expansion in Asia as managing director before taking the top job, said M&A opportunities will also be key to expanding in the area as well as in the US. 

Cognac Deal

“We’re looking at anything that can strengthen our franchise to grow even more quickly in the US and Asia and that can make our offer ‘premium’,” he said. “Whiskey is just an example but it’s not the only category we’re looking at.”

In December, Campari Group agreed to buy Courvoisier Cognac from Beam Suntory for at least $1.2 billion in the largest acquisition in the Italian spirit maker’s history. It also acquired US Bourbon producer Wilderness Trail Distillery LLC in 2022 as it continued expanding beyond traditional aperitfs.

Read More: Campari Buys Courvoisier From Beam Suntory for $1.2 Billion 

Fantacchiotti spoke at an event to mark the upgrade of a Campari plant in Novi Ligure, northern Italy, which accounts for about one-third of output, according to a statement on Friday. That will increase its annual capacity by 100 million bottles; production has already risen from 29 million bottles in 2004 to 360 million last year. 

The CEO said he doesn’t see any reason not to provide guidance in the second quarter as the company has done in the past. But that’s not a promise, he said, as there are still uncertainties, although shipping bottlenecks have eased and inflation has slowed down in some geographies. 

(Updates with photo.)

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