Artisanal Spirits Company toasts successful year and potential IPO

Artisanal Spirits Company (ASC), the owner of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, has today announced strong results for 2020, the appointment of global drinks industry veteran Mark Hunter as chair of the Board and signalled a possible IPO on AIM.

Artisanal Spirits Company toasts successful year and potential IPO

Mark Hunter

Last year was another strong year for the ASC against a challenging backdrop as the company continued to benefit from the growing demand for premium single cask Scotch malt whisky both domestically and overseas.

Revenues grew to £15m, driven by a 30% increase in e-commerce sales and continued international success, with non-UK trade now accounting for 69% of overall revenues versus 59% in 2019 and 54% in 2018. Global membership of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society increased 4% in the year to c28,000, owing to an increase in the number of sign-ups made through online channels.

Overall, EBITDA (including other income) increased by £0.5m to £0.6m, despite the negative impact of £0.7m, as a direct result of the US 25% tariff on single malt scotch whisky.

The largest international market by value is China with over £3.0m of sales followed by the USA on £2.7m. The ASC proposition is an attractive one for international markets, where the firm’s premium single malt single cask products, combined with its membership offering, are highly sought after. The firm expects continued strong growth in our international strategic markets with China, USA, Japan and Germany leading the way.

Paul Skipworth, who has now moved into the role of deputy chair of the Artisanal Spirits Company, commented on the results: “Over the past five years as Chair, I’m delighted that company revenues have nearly tripled, stock levels have quadrupled and the business has changed positively and dramatically from being 80/20 UK/International to around 30/70 UK/International.

“The foundations for success have been built and are delivering results year on year. Further ambitious plans are under consideration. I have no doubt that the future is bright for the ASC.”

“I believe that the ASC is extremely well positioned to take advantage of the global consumer trends of premiumization; digital engagement and e-commerce; internationalization of brands and consumers and the consumer thirst for knowledge on the creation, authenticity and heritage of the products that they consume. Combined with its stock holdings and supply relationships with over 100 distilleries worldwide, I believe that the ASC will continue to grow strongly in the years ahead.”

ASC has also announced the appointment of global drinks industry veteran Mark Hunter as chair. Mr Hunter succeeds Paul Skipworth, who moves into the role of deputy chair.

Mr Hunter is a seasoned global alcohol industry leader having managed some of the world’s leading alcohol brands in a career spanning over 30 years. Most recently as President and CEO of Molson Coors, he has significant experience in the North American, European and other international markets.

Mr Hunter is a current non-executive director of TreeHouse Foods Inc, a US-listed manufacturer and distributor of private label packaged foods and beverages.

Mark Hunter added: “I feel very privileged to take on this role at such an exciting time for ASC and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. SMWS is a special organisation, delivering only the very best single cask, single malt whisky, craft spirits and entertainment to its loyal members around the world. Working alongside the ASC executive team, I am committed to continuing the work of my predecessor, Paul, in ensuring the Society continues to grow and thrive while protecting the distinctive culture and values that make it so unique.”

David Ridley, managing director of the Artisanal Spirits Company, said: “Attracting someone of Mark’s calibre to ASC is testament to the success we’ve had and the opportunities that lie ahead. Mark knows the alcohol industry inside out, but just as importantly is a proud Scot who loves our product, buys into our philosophy and lives and breathes the same values we do. We welcome Mark to the team and look forward to working closely with him to grow ASC and take SMWS to the next level for its members.”

Mr Hunter’s appointment recognises ASC’s desire to lay the foundations for the next stage in the company’s growth and coincides with a planned review of the strategic options available to facilitate that growth.

One of the options under review in light of the obvious business benefits which might flow from an enhanced public profile and access to a wider pool of growth capital, is an IPO. ASC said that at the heart of any decision will be the ability to provide members with a stunning array of unique whiskies and great experiences long into the future.

ASC has appointed N+1 Singer to explore options.

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