Whisky Shop seeks to branch out in England

THE Whisky Shop is looking to open more stores in what it has called the "emerging market" south of the Border.

Owned by parent company, GlenKeir Whiskies, based in Glasgow, The Whisky Shop saw like-for-like sales rise by 18 per cent in England and 15 per cent in Scotland last month compared with December 2008. Annual revenue is around 6 million.

With nine stores in Scotland, including openings in Edinburgh, Gretna Green and Leith, Ian Bankier, GlenKeir's executive chairman, said he expects to add two more stores this year to the six already in England.

The firm's Christmas internet sales have continued to grow at a rate of 18 per cent, accounting for a tenth of all trade. However, Bankier said it was not the focus for its expansion.

"Internet sales have been going up for the last four or five years and a lot of people big-up internet sales as a way forward.

"But customers need interaction with our staff. People also don't like a 30-50 glass bottle in the post. It doesn't lend itself well to malt whisky trading," he said.

"We enjoyed an excellent summer due to the strong euro against the pound, the success of the Homecoming festival in Scotland and the number of 'staycation' visitors to Scotland.

"Our biggest challenge is the cost of doing business on the UK high street, which is uniquely expensive because of the 'upwards only' rental system and the fact that local authority rates are value based."