Scotch Malt Whisky Society owner cheers growth and US tariff suspension after 'bright' stock market debut

Scotch Malt Whisky Society owner Artisanal Spirits Company is confident of doubling sales by 2024 after making a “bright start” as a listed company.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 7:53 am
Updated Thursday, 16th September 2021, 7:53 am

Releasing its first set of results since June’s initial public offering (IPO), which saw it join London’s Alternative Investment Market, the group reported a 20 per cent increase in revenues for the six months to June 30 to £7.9 million, slightly ahead of management’s expectations.

Bosses pointed to strong international sales growth, particularly in the US with the performance there boosted by March’s suspension of tariffs on imports of single malt whisky. They also highlighted a recovery in UK venue and events sales following a phased reopening from lockdown in the second quarter.

Gross profit increased 31 per cent to £5.1m though the group posted a loss after tax of £1.1m, up from a loss of £700,000 a year earlier, amid investment and exceptional costs. That result marked a slight improvement on management’s expectations at the time of IPO.

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Headquartered in Edinburgh, ASC is the owner of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), which looks to share the world’s best curated whiskies, bringing them to life through tasting events, content and other member activities. Picture: Mike Wilkinson

Updating on trading since the end of the first half, the group said the growing demand and trading momentum in international markets and continuation of “strong progressive recovery” in UK venue and events gave confidence in its ability to meet market expectations for the full year.

Overall membership grew by 4 per cent in the eight months to August, to 29,400, with International growth outpacing the UK.

There has been ongoing “material” investment, exceeding £1m, in spirit and cask wood. The group now holds 100 per cent of the stock it plans to sell through to the end of 2026, which is up from 95 per cent at the time of the IPO.

Managing director David Ridley told investors: “Momentum in key international markets continues to build on the back of growing demand for our products and we have seen a strong and sustained recovery in UK venue and events sales since their phased reopening from Covid from mid-May onwards, giving us confidence in meeting market expectations for the full year.

“While Brexit continues to present some logistical challenges for exports to certain EU markets, we continue to work through them.

“We are still at the very beginning of our journey as a listed company, but we have made a bright start.

“Against a backdrop of favourable market trends, we are optimistic about our ability to realise our growth ambitions to double ASC sales between 2020 and 2024, and we look forward to keeping shareholders updated as we work to deliver long-term value.”

Headquartered in Edinburgh, ASC is the owner of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, which is based at The Vaults in Leith and looks to share the world’s best curated whiskies, bringing them to life through tasting events, content and other member activities.

The group said it had bottled more product in the first six months of 2021 than in the entirety of 2019. It also highlighted a record number of awards across this year's International Wine & Spirits Competition and Ultimate Spirits Challenge - two of the most prestigious competitions in the global whisky calendar.

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