Whisky giant Edrington has toasted a rise in annual earnings as investment in its premium brands drove up sales overseas.
The Glasgow-headquartered drinks maker and distributor behind a raft of spirits including The Famous Grouse and The Macallan recorded a 4 per cent increase in profits before exceptional items to £91.6 million for the year to 31 March.
This excluded profits from the sale of Cutty Sark and Glenturret, both to French groups, which delivered combined exceptional proceeds of £124.2m.
Statutory profits for the financial year rocketed 83 per cent to £158.7m.
The total volume of drinks sold crept 2 per cent higher to 7.8 million cases equivalent.
Edrington experienced overall sales growth in all regions except Europe, where revenues were flat as higher sales in its core brands were offset by a decline in standard drinks. It pointed to particular success in Asia and the US, citing the latter as the “world’s largest market for premium spirits”.
Overall revenues from Edrington-branded products grew by 9 per cent to £679.8m, with double-digit increases across its Macallan, malt whiskies (Highland Park, The Glenrothes and Naked) and Brugal rum offerings.
The group pointed to increased investment in its brands, which rose 7 per cent to £137.3m, as it shifted focus to its core “super premium” offering, as well as greater international reach after launching in Mexico.
Edrington also pointed to the benefits of a weaker British currency offsetting a lower level of global income across its non-core brands.
It blamed a decline in contributions from The Famous Grouse on “the continued challenging trading environment” for blended Scotch, although the whisky successfully increased market share in a number of key markets including the UK.
The opening of The Macallan Estate’s new distillery and visitor experience, touted as “a spiritual home” for the Scotch, was hailed as a key operation highlight.
Chief executive Scott McCroskie said: “We have made further progress this year towards building the world’s leading portfolio of exceptional super premium brands.
“A 9 per cent rise in core revenue and 6 per cent growth in core contribution is encouraging as it has been achieved against a backdrop of significantly increased brand investment, upgraded packaging and investment in capacity and capability.
“The business has delivered strong international growth that reflects continuing consumer demand for our products, particularly in China, South East Asia and the US, which is the world’s largest market for premium spirits.”
McCroskie also paid tribute to former chief executive Ian Curle, who retired at the end of the financial year after 33 years with the business.