Glenfiddich-maker William Grant & Sons in optimistic spirits despite 2020 profit fall

Spirits-producer William Grant & Sons has seen annual sales and profits lose volume on the back of pandemic-related challenges, but said it continued to invest to help it ultimately “emerge stronger”.

The firm – whose brands include whiskies Glenfiddich and The Balvenie, and Hendrick’s Gin – flagged a year-on-year drop in turnover of 11.6 per cent to £1.26 billion, while profit after tax was down 23.4 per cent to £240 million for the year ending December 31, 2020.

It noted the pandemic causing “major disruption to the business, the spirits industry and society as a whole” in the period. To help tackle Covid-19, the distiller was involved in the mass-production of hand-sanitiser and the building of a PCR testing lab to regularly test employees, with the facility also providing testing capacity for NHS Scotland.

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In addition, the family-owned business said it has returned all the furlough monies received at the outset of the pandemic from the UK Government Job Retention Scheme.

'Being a privately-owned company has enabled us to continue to take a long-term view,' says the firm. Picture: contributed.

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The company also said that in the year it invested in its people and in upgrading infrastructure to support its long-term growth aspirations, while highlights included the launches of Glenfiddich Grand Cortes XXII in Shanghai and Fistful of Bourbon in the US.

A spokesperson for William Grant & Sons commented: “Being a privately-owned company has enabled us to continue to take a long-term view. Every possible step has been taken throughout the pandemic to protect our people – despite the impact on short-term profitability.

"Once the impact of the pandemic was understood, we were also able to begin reinvesting in our brands and infrastructure to protect our position in the global market. Though the future may look different, this continuing reinvestment will help us emerge stronger from the pandemic.”

The firm, which was established by William Grant in 1887 and has a base in Bellshill, is also behind Grant’s, saying that is the world’s third-largest blended Scotch, as well as other spirits brands such as Monkey Shoulder and Drambuie.

In May 2021 a senior judge ordered discount retailer Lidl to stop selling own-brand Hampstead gin because of a Hendrick's trademark breach.

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