Famous Grouse maker Edrington cheers resilient results and takes stake in 'ultra-premium' gin brand

Edrington, the whisky maker behind Famous Grouse and The Macallan, has reported double-digit declines in annual sales and profits but said the outcome was not as bad as expected.

Core revenue, from Edrington-branded products at constant currency, came in at £576.2 million for the year to the end of March, down 15 per cent on a year earlier, amid an operating environment that included Brexit, US whisky tariffs and the effects of the global pandemic.

Profit before tax fell 21 per cent to £178.4m.

The group, which had flagged a “significant” decline in sales and profits, said its flagship brand, The Macallan, had suffered due to a sharp contraction in the global travel retail market, closures of bars and restaurants and wholesaler destocking in the US.

Edrington chief executive Scott McCroskie: 'The fundamentals of our business are strong, and our brands are in good health.' Picture: Jo Hanley Photography

However, consumer demand for the brand remained strong and the business shifted to accelerate progress in new channels such as e-commerce. The Macallan saw strong performances in China, south-east Asia and Russia.

Famous Grouse proved “resilient” in its core markets in northern and eastern Europe and extended its lead as Scotland and the UK’s favourite whisky, the group added.

Chief executive Scott McCroskie said: “In last year’s annual report, I anticipated a decline in profitability after several years of consistent growth as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and tariffs on single malt Scotch whisky in the USA, our largest market.

“Our reported results confirm that this was indeed the case, although I believe that the relatively modest declines represent a good outcome in the circumstances.

“The fundamentals of our business are strong, and our brands are in good health. Although the pandemic will continue to impact our business for some time to come, I am encouraged by the growth in sales we have seen in the first quarter of this financial year.”

The group also announced a deal to take a significant minority stake in No.3 London Dry Gin, the “ultra-premium” gin owned by Berry Bros & Rudd. Edrington has had a partnership with the family-owned business dating back nearly 100 years.

Edrington’s principal shareholder is the Robertson Trust, which has donated £301m to charitable causes in Scotland since 1961.

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