Grants toasts record sales

Glenfiddich. Picture: Submitted
Glenfiddich. Picture: Submitted
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WHISKY distiller William Grant & Sons yesterday toasted record revenues despite the eurozone debt crisis making 2012 a “challenging year” for the family-owned company.

The Dufftown-based firm, which makes Glenfiddich single malt and Grant’s blended Scotch, posted a 1.4 per cent rise in full-year revenues to £1.06 billion. Sales first broke through the £1bn barrier in 2011.

Operating profits dipped by 1.2 per cent to £124.8 million after the company invested in increasing its production, refurbishing its visitor centres and gearing up for the construction of a distillery in Ireland.

Cash was also pumped into replacing one of the computer systems used by the group, which also makes the Balvenie single malt and the Monkey Shoulder triple malt.

Stella David, chief executive at William Grant, said: “Whilst 2012 saw some difficult global economic conditions, the company continued to perform well thanks to the continued success of our premium spirits brands and our consistent focus on building brand equity and ­investing for the long term.”

Last year saw the launch of the first television advertisements for the company’s Sailor Jerry spiced rum brand, while its Hendrick’s label “continues to lead the super-premium gin segment with rapid value growth across all regions”.

William Grant & Sons, which is owned by the Gordon and Grant families, said that it had also invested in its other spirit brands, including Reyka vodka, Solerno blood orange liqueur and Milagro tequila.

Work began a couple of weeks ago on the construction of the new £29m Tullamore distillery at Clonminch, Co Offaly.

Irish agriculture minister Simon Coveney broke open a cask of Tullamore whiskey to mark the first sod being turned at the site, which will bring production back to Clonminch for the first time since 1954.

William Grant & Sons bought Tullamore in 2010 as part of its €300m (£250m) takeover of C&C Group’s spirits business, a year after the Dublin-based drinks group bought Tennent’s and its Wellpark brewery in Glasgow from InBev for £180m.

Glenfiddich marked the 125th anniversary last year of the opening of its distillery by filling 11 bottles to celebrate the life of Janet Sheed Roberts, the grand-daughter of the company’s founder, William Grant. Roberts died last year aged 110.

The bottles raised more than £400,000 for a group of charities after going under the hammer at various auctions.

Balvenie held a “fête” in Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square last week, featuring tastings with its UK ambassador, Andrew Forrester, cooperage displays and chocolate and whisky tasting workshops with Nadia Ellingham, who runs the Thinking Chocolate shop in Edinburgh.

William Grant & Sons’ figures come amid a flurry of rising revenues in the spirits industry, as demand for whisky soars in Asia and the United States.

Johnnie Walker-maker Diageo, Scotland’s largest distiller, posted a 6 per cent rise in sales to £11.4bn, with Chivas Brothers owner Pernod Ricard chalking up a 4 per cent increase to £7.3bn and Famous Grouse producer Edrington posting a 6 per cent rise to a record £591.3m.