Distributor puts the on-trade First

New strategy designed to help operators achieve profitable sales growth


THE drinks firm behind Glenfiddich, Disaronno, Sailor Jerry and Hendrick’s is on a mission to help operators grow sales and profits.

First Drinks, the distributor wholly-owned by William Grant & Sons, has doubled its UK on-trade team and appointed Andrew Clifton to the newly-created head of on-trade role.
North of the border, Gerry Mellor joined as regional sales manager north – another new post – earlier this year, overseeing a team of eight business development executives, five of whom cover Scotland.
The appointments are part of a new on-trade strategy, under which the firm has also made a “significant” investment in new technology to deliver a “more targeted approach”, by customer and brand, with the support it offers.


First Drinks has also added to its category management team, taking on more specialists and introducing a new ranging and merchandising strategy, designed to ensure its brands deliver value sales growth for its customers.
Speaking to SLTN earlier this month, Mellor said the new strategy allows the distributor to focus on the “segmentation of the on-trade and target brands”.
“It’s all things the business was doing before but we’re able to do more because we have more people,” he said.
“It’s about us communicating and interacting more closely with the on-trade.
“We’ve got a good strong team. We’re looking at how we can help accounts from start to finish, whether it’s a simple drinks list or placing point of sale to business and commercial discussions.
“We’re offering tailored support rather than a blanket approach.”
A range of activity has already spun out from the new strategy, including the launch of the Balvenie Dipping Dog.
Inspired by the distillery’s early days, when a copper tube (dipping dog) was used by workers to extract whisky from the cask when the Exciseman’s back was turned, the method of serve has been rolled out to high-end outlets across the UK, including The Bonham in Edinburgh.
A bartender training event and cocktail competition has also been held around its Cognac brand Remy Martin.
New on-trade chief Andrew Clifton said the independent company is able to be “nimble” in the way it deals with customer requirements.
“Our dedicated category management team provides impartial insight, supporting customers with a real understanding of what consumers are looking for and solutions to meet these needs,” he said.
“This then allows us to work with customers to offer bespoke solutions to meet these needs, resulting in mutual business benefits.
“It’s all about getting the right brands in the right bars, supported in the right way.
“We are committed to delivering profitable sales growth for our customers and we believe we have the best people, brands and activation in the business to implement this strategy.”

Images – Gerry Mellor, First Drinks’ regional sales manager north, said the distributor is offering tailored support for the on-trade.