Categorized | Announcements, Beer, News

Thriving Innis & Gunn Takes Aim At the US beer market

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INNIS & Gunn, the Edinburgh-based beer company, yesterday posted a 31 per cent surge in turnover.
Revenue in the year to 31 December hit £4.4 million, with sales in the fourth quarter alone up 21 per cent to £1.1m.
Managing director Dougal Sharp told The Scotsman the company was on the cusp of its official launch in the United States.

He said he was finalising the wording for its labels and he expected the roll-out to begin with New York and other states along the eastern seaboard.

Innis & Gunn is already the biggest-selling British beer in Canada, and Sharp has identified the US as a key market.

“More than 50 per cent of our website traffic already comes from the US, and we don’t even sell the beer there yet,” said Sharp. “It could potentially be a huge market for us among craft beer drinkers.”

Last month, Sharp appointed Dan deLuca, a veteran of the drinks industry, as managing director of Innis & Gunn USA, the company’s American wing.

DeLuca joined from International Beverage, which owns Inver House Distillers and makes malt whiskies, including Old Pulteney, Balblair and Speyburn.

Innis & Gunn was launched in 2003 as a joint venture with William Grant & Sons to develop a beer to finish a “cask ale reserve” whisky. The beer tasted good enough to sell, and last year Sharp led a management buy-out.

The money he borrowed to pay for the purchase had been repaid to Bank of Scotland within 15 months, as planned.

Sharp, speaking ahead of the annual accounts being filed with Companies House, said the company had been profitable since 2005 and earnings had grown each year, including last year. But he declined to be drawn on the size of the profit.

Having chosen to focus on the off-trade, Sharp believes his company has benefited from people choosing to stay at home during the recession, rather than drinking in pubs on nights out.

Off-trade sales account for 95 per cent of the company’s revenues and its beer is ranked No3 in sales volume and value in the specialty beer category in the UK off-trade, behind imports Leffe and Hoegaarden

“When Innis & Gunn launched in 2003, there was no indication of the economic difficulties ahead,” said Sharp. “It’s testament to our products, business model and quality of staff that we’ve been able to thrive through the toughest recession in living memory.”

Sharp’s team has grown to seven in Edinburgh – with one member of staff in Canada and DeLuca in the US – and he plans to move office later this year.

As well as having its strong position in Canada, the beer is sold in Finland, Ireland, Norway and Sweden, where it is the second best-selling imported bottled beer, behind Newcastle Brown Ale.

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Tuesday, September 26, 6:27 pm

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