Innis & Gunn recruits three key staff as focus turns to European markets

Sharp: tight-lipped on profits
Sharp: tight-lipped on profits
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BEER company Innis & Gunn has pushed its headcount through the 30 mark with three new appointments as the Edinburgh-based company gears up for an assault on Western Europe.

Chief executive Dougal Sharp has appointed John Robertson as his European business development manager to lead the charge on the Continent.

The company – which makes beer aged in whisky casks – ­already operates in Finland, Norway and Sweden, as well as the UK, Ireland and North America.

In Sweden, Innis & Gunn is the second best-selling imported ale, while it is also the top-selling British beer in Canada.

Robertson joins Innis & Gunn from Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya’s United Breweries Group, where he was in charge of growing Whyte & Mackay sales in pubs before managing the Kingfisher beer account across Europe.

Heineken UK and Scottish & Newcastle veteran Rachel Sutherland has been named as the company’s new “quality sensory manager”, which involves managing production and overseeing the dry goods supply chain.

Production planner Jackie Bain – who has worked at IBM, Lexmark and Motorola – completes the firm’s hat-trick of appointments. Bain joins from Moodiesburn-based ­Devro, the FTSE 250-listed sausage skin maker.

The new recruits cap a year-long expansion plan put in place by the company, which has seen its headcount double to 32.

Innis & Gunn was launched in 2003 as a joint venture with Glenfiddich distiller William Grant & Sons to develop a beer to condition casks that were then used to finish a “cask ale reserve” blended whisky. The beer tasted good enough to drink so a company was formed to bottle and sell the tipple. Sharp led a management buy-out in 2008.

The firm pumped £1 million into its expansion, with the Scottish Government contributing £175,000 through a regional selective assistant (RSA) grant.

“Looking back, it’s hard to believe that there were only 
12 of us rattling round our 
new office and now we’re close to filling it already,” said Sharp.

News of the completion of the recruitment programme comes after Innis & Gunn posted a 62 per cent surge in sales for 2011 to £7.5m. The increase was driven by a 178 per cent leap in sales in the United States, where its beers have gone on sale in 20 states during the past year and gained listings at restaurants including Gordon Ramsay’s outlet on the Las Vegas strip. Exports now account for 77 per cent 
of turnover, with Innis & 
Gunn claiming that its sales have continued to grow since then.

Sharp has remained tight-lipped on the firm’s profits as the business is still small enough to file abbreviated accounts at Companies House, but excess cash from 2011 is understood to have been ploughed into last year’s recruitment drive.