Wm Grant & Sons in restructure

Family-owned drinks firm rebrands distribution division

• The spirits category is said to be worth £5.4 billion to the UK on-trade.

THE firm behind The Balvenie, Sailor Jerry and Hendrick’s has rebranded its distribution subsidiary, First Drinks, as William Grant & Sons UK as part of a restructuring of the business.

The rebrand forms part of a reorganisation of the former First Drinks division, which became wholly-owned by William Grant in 2006.
Chris Mason, managing director of William Grant & Sons UK, said the reorganised distribution business will benefit from the “international footprint of our group, with its fine reputation as innovators and builders of premium international brands”.
“We are in a good position to drive long-term value for our outstanding portfolio of premium spirits by continued investment and strong working relationships with customers and our partners,” said Mason.
“This approach will enable us to deliver successful business solutions to our customers, to the benefit of their consumers.”
The rebranding came as the distributor released its annual market report.
According to the William Grant & Sons Market Report, 2014 the on-trade “remains in a state of flux”, with consumers going out less frequently.
However when they are out in pubs and bars, 79% of drinkers consider spirits – and it’s the spirits category which is said to be driving growth, with the value of the on-trade spirits market in the UK worth £5.4 billion, up 5.1% on last year.
The spirits category is the second-largest drinks category in the on-trade, accounting for 18% of value sales, according to the report.
The study shows sales growth is being driven by non-flavoured vodka, gin, non-cream liqueurs and malt whisky.
Premium spirits are said to be growing ahead of mainstream brands, and are worth £612m in the UK on-trade, up 13.7%.
Mason said building premium brands is “core” to William Grant & Sons UK’s business.
“It is these higher-end spirits which can offer more in terms of value, to appeal to the consumer,” he added.
“In the year ahead we aim to work even more closely with our customers to deliver premium experiences – be they online, in-store or in-outlet.
“This is an exciting time for our business as we take the next positive steps in our evolution.”