Filshill takes aim at on-trade

Recent acquisition will ‘enhance’ wholesaler’s offer

• JW Filshill MD Simon Hannah said his firm is eyeing expansion in the on-trade.

GLASGOW-based wholesaler JW Filshill has taken the next step in its expansion into the on-trade following the acquisition of Largs-based supplier Lawrence McQueen Wine & Spirits Merchants.

The wholesaler acquired the family-owned business earlier this month for an undisclosed sum.
Simon Hannah, managing director of JW Filshill, said he expects the acquisition to provide the wholesaler with a “platform to further enhance our positioning within the on-trade”.
On-trade business currently makes up around 5% of JW Filshill’s turnover, said Hannah; the wholesaler’s customers include 163 KeyStore convenience stores across Scotland and the north of England, as well as 1400 independent cash and carry and delivered customers.

The acquisition will provide us with a platform to enhance our positioning within the on-trade.

“We are keen to diversify our business into complimentary areas and see this as an opportunity to utilise our expertise and logistics network to grow our existing on-trade business,” said Hannah.
“There is considerable consolidation in Scotland among the big on-trade operators just now and this presents opportunities for companies like JW Filshill.
“The fact that Lawrence McQueen’s business is long-established and highly respected within the industry will also help us given its loyal customer base of bars, pubs and hotels across mainland Scotland.”
Making headway in the on-trade is a long term plan for JW Filshill, according to Hannah, who said that the focus will be on “making sure the process is all right”.
“Price has always been an important component, availability is always a key point and service is important too,” he said.
“What this acquisition does is allow us to focus on it [on-trade] and get some structure in the business towards the on-trade.
“There is definitely movement from this side of the convenience fence.
“We’re aware of convenience-style wholesalers getting involved in the trade.”
Hannah said recent consolidation among some on-trade wholesalers had made the market “less cluttered” for new entrants, highlighting mergers between William Morton and Inverarity Vaults in 2011 and Inverarity Morton’s subsequent acquisition of Forth Wines last October as well as Tennent’s acquisition of a stake in Wallaces Express.
“There’s a lot of change happening in the on-trade,” he said.
“I think people are looking for a more composite wholesaler.”
Lawrence McQueen, the second generation owner of Lawrence McQueen Wine & Spirits Merchants, is expected to work with JW Filshill during a short hand-over period before retiring.
McQueen said the sale of the business, originally founded by his father, had been a “difficult decision”.
“But with the trade changing at such a pace, the chance to sell the business to another family concern [that] I have worked with for many years and have the greatest respect for presented an ideal opportunity for me to hand over the reins and let someone else develop the business to the next level,” he said.
“I would like to thank all our customers – past and present – who have supported us over the years and wish them and JW Filshill every success for the future.”