Scotch Malt Whisky Society owner toasts sales jump in 'transformational' 2021

The Artisanal Spirits Company (ASC) – owner of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) – is predicting a further top-up of sales after a “transformational” 2021, in which it believes revenues will easily overtake expectations.

The company, which listed on junior London market Aim in June 2021, has stated in a trading update that it expects to report full-year revenue of about £18 million, up from £15m in the prior 12 months, “comfortably ahead of market expectations,” with both UK and international sales growing by around a fifth.

It is behind the SMWS, which is based at The Vaults in Leith and curates and provides premium, single-cask Scotch malt whisky and other spirits for sale primarily online, and said it saw a 15 per cent jump in global membership growth – “a leading indicator of future revenue growth” – in the second half to exceeed 33,000 at year end, up from 28,700 at June 30. UK and overseas members grew by approximately 20 per cent and 15 per cent respectively over the year as a whole.

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ASC boss David Ridley with products from the firm's J.G. Thomson brand that was unveiled in November. Picture: Colin Hattersley Photography.

ASC also flagged continued recovery in UK venue and events sales, with a “robust” performance through to year end – and UK venue sales in the second half surpassed those across the whole of 2020.

It noted progress made against strategic growth objectives outlined at the time of its initial public offering, including the signing of a ten-year lease for a new supply-chain facility, the launch of brand J.G. Thomson; and setting up a warehouse in mainland Europe.

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ASC has a positive outlook moving into this year, “notwithstanding the inherent unpredictability of Covid-19, with strong member growth in the second half underpinning the board’s confidence that the new financial year will see ASC deliver further meaningful revenue growth”.

Executive managing director David Ridley said 2021 was a “transformational” year for the business in many ways. “Sales growth was consistently strong, particularly in the context of ongoing industry-wide pressures as a consequence of Covid-19 and Brexit.

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“The exciting step-change in our development created by our admission to trading on Aim in June has given us the strategic focus and access to funds to enable us to take our SMWS member offering to the next level, launching J.G. Thomson and exploring opportunities to expand the group’s portfolio of brands.”

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