Owner of Edinburgh-based Scotch Malt Whisky Society toasts £78m stock market debut

The owner of the Edinburgh-based Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) has floated on the stock market with a valuation of £78 million.

The Artisanal Spirits Company (ASC) has seen its entire issued share capital of 69,605,774 ordinary shares admitted to trading on London’s junior market Aim. It debuted with a market capitalisation of about £77.96m based on shares being priced at £1.12.

The company has consequently raised £26m from a combination of institutional and retail investors, with “strong” support from SMWS members who invested £2.64m under the oversubscribed member’s offer.

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The fundraising raised £11m for certain selling shareholders, and £15m for the company, which will help it fund further investment in whisky and other spirits stock, and in cask wood; the promotion of membership and business growth; existing and new venues; brand and digital development; and supply chain optimisation. It follows ASC last month securing a £19.5m funding package to support its growth after a record year.

ASC says the float will help offer a 'wider variety of premium, limited edition whiskies, spirits and inspiring experiences'. Picture: Peter Sandground.

Newly appointed chairman Mark Hunter, who has a drinks industry career spanning more than 30 years, most recently as president and chief executive of Molson Coors, has personally invested £1m.

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SWMS, which is headquartered at The Vaults in Leith, looks to share the world’s best curated whiskies, bringing them to life through tasting events, content and other member activities.

Executive managing director David Ridley said: “The successful fundraise and move onto the public markets, which gave our loyal and discerning members the opportunity to become shareholders, is an exciting landmark for both ASC and SMWS. Our members are at the heart of everything we do, and we believe our status on Aim will enable us to access the capital required to bring them an even wider variety of premium, limited edition whiskies, spirits and inspiring experiences.

“ASC is a distinctive, fast growth, direct-to-consumer online business with high barriers to entry, operating in an industry with strong tailwinds. With a clear vision for the future, we believe our company is at a significant inflection point in its development, and are thrilled by the prospect of sharing our success with our new shareholders."

John Moore, senior investment manager at Brewin Dolphin, deemed the initial public offering (IPO) “further evidence” of the fast-moving stock market environment for new issues and merger-and-acquisition activity.


"Having been part of bigger organisations such as Glenmorangie and LVMH, this is an opportunity for the company’s management team to further develop the strong membership of, and affinity towards, [SMWS] and progress wider opportunities, much of which will sit in overseas markets.

"Existing investors and management are retaining more than 50 per cent of the company and are aligned with new shareholders, which is often a key ingredient in the success of smaller companies.”

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ASC had in April signalled a possible IPO on Aim as it reported that annual revenues grew to £15m, driven by a 30 per cent increase in e-commerce sales and continued international success.

Global membership of SMWS increased 4 per cent in the year to about 28,000, while core earnings increased by £500,000 to £600,000.

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