WILLIAM Grant & Sons, the family-owned distiller and one of Scotland’s largest private companies, has reported record profits boosted by sales of non whisky spirits such as Hendrick’s Gin and Sailor Jerry spiced rum.
The distiller, which also makes Glenfiddich single malt whisky and Grant’s blended Scotch, said its best financial performance yet was driven by a positive trading environment for its core brands and an improved mix for spirit sales.
But analysts said that profits had also been boosted by consumers trading down to some of its portfolio whiskies and payments received from one-off exceptionals such as the reorganisation of the spirits distribution group Maxxium.
Grant’s brands include Clan MacGregor, Grant’s and The Balvenie whiskies, Reyka vodka, Sailor Jerry spiced rum, liqueur Solerno and fruit-flavour Taboo mixers.
Accounts released yesterday for parent William Grant and Sons Holdings show a pre-tax profits of £129.2 million for 2008, a growth of 55 per cent on the previous year, on a turnover of £598.3m, up 21 per cent.
Stella David, who was appointed as chief executive in June from Bacardi where she was head of global marketing, said the company has maintained its record of success and commitment to remaining an ambitious independent company.
The firm, established in 1887, said in its annual accounts that it continued to develop its core brands during 2008.
Overall cased volumes increased, which was attributed to a strong performance by the Grant’s Family Reserve and Clan MacGregor whiskies as well as Hendrick’s, Sailor Jerry and Milagro tequila, in which the firm has a 51 per cent stake.
The firm said that at the end of 2008 it secured the distribution rights for the Stolichnaya vodka brand in the USA and now distributes Stoli in a number of European and Asian markets and US duty-free.
The news comes as drinks group Pernod Ricard, which owns Chivas Brothers in the UK, announced it is targeting a slight rise in profits. The move echoes similar guidance from rival Diageo on signs that consumer demand is slowly recovering from the effects of the financial crisis.
At its annual general meeting in Paris yesterday, Pernod announced it was targeting 2009-10 organic growth in profit from recurring operations of between 1 per cent and 3 per cent.
The world’s second-largest spirits group by volume added it remained confident in the quality of its drinks portfolio, which includes Absolut vodka and Chivas Regal whisky.
In a statement it said: “The group highlights that, even if the general economic environment remains difficult, particularly in Europe, early signs of improvement are appearing in certain markets.”
Last month, Diageo kept its guidance for low single-digit organic growth in operating profit for 2010. Pernod reported a 4 per cent fall in first-quarter underlying sales last month, although the result beat market forecasts and the company said it had seen early signs of a recovery in some of its markets.