Forth snaps up Fife wholesale rival


THE appeal of removing a local competitor and the opportunity to grow the business in a challenging period were among the main reasons which motivated Forth Wines to snap up rival wholesaler JA Glass of Dysart, Fife.

Forth, the Milnathort-based wine and spirits merchant, acquired the family-owned drinks supplier, established by Duncan Glass and cousin Donald, for an undisclosed fee late last month.
The deal promises to extend Forth’s product range (stocking bottled beers and minerals for the first time) and customer base.
Managing director George Thomson, part of the consortium which bought Forth from Matthew Clark in 2010, explained the attraction of the deal.
“Duncan operates on our territory, so we compete with him from time to time,” he told SLTN.
“If you can partially eliminate the competition by bringing them inside then that’s a big help in itself.
“When you’re trying to grow your business, particularly in the current environment, it’s difficult without perhaps looking at acquisition as an opportunity to consolidate and grow.
“That’s really why we went down that route and, as I say, he’s really on our territory, so from a geographical point of view it was a neat fit.”
Forth said it planned to continue running JA Glass as a discrete entity, although its five staff will move to Forth’s Milnathort base.
That will mean the closure of the Glass retail outlet, though Thomson said customers, largely from the corporate world, will be retained. Glass also has a website, which Forth will continue to develop sales through.
“We’re going to run the two businesses separately, as part of the same group, but the characteristic of the Glass customer is somewhat different to ours, and ours is somewhat different to theirs, so it possibly gives us the opportunity to broaden out the account base,” Thomson said.
“They do different products from us – they have a slightly larger range and supply bottled beers, minerals and the like, which we didn’t do.
“It will be quite interesting for us to observe how that business operates in the coming months.”
Thomson reported satisfaction with the progress made by Forth since linking up with Ian Cumming, Ewen Cameron and Alan Cramond to buy it in 2010, and refused to rule out further acquisitions.
“You’re limited by the opportunity that is out there, to be perfectly honest, but if the opportunity presented itself we’d look at the merits and see if we could do the deal.”
Duncan Glass, whose cousin Donald plans to retire, said he was “delighted to be working with Forth Wines”.
“The move will enable us to focus on improving our customer reach and extend our product range to the benefit of our customers,” he added.