By Graeme Murray
Whisky and cigar firm plans expansion after sale to entrepreneur
SPECIALIST whisky and cigar retailer Robert Graham is to double the number of its outlets after changing hands in a seven-figure deal.
Edinburgh-based entrepreneur Stephen Johnstone has bought a majority shareholding in the 140 year old retailer.
Originally established in 1874, the firm remained in family hands until the early 2000s.
It now has five stores in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cambridge and London. But Johnstone wants to more than double the number of premises over the next five years.
The boutique outlets stock single malt Scotch whiskies plus limited edition ranges from well-known Scottish distilleries.
The retailer also owns the Dancing Stag and Treasurer whisky brands and a selection of Cuban and non-Cuban cigars.
Sales are said to be a 50/50 split between whisky and cigars and the chain’s Glasgow outlet also boasts a large humidor.
Johnstone’s background is in retail, manufacturing and distribution. And after acquiring Robert Graham he plans further outlets in Aberdeen, Dundee and Inverness.
He said: “For me it was a dream come true. I’m involved in a business I’m passionate about. It’s Scottish, I know brands and I know retail.
“It’s a great business with real potential for further growth.
“The plan is to open ten stores over the next five years in major Scottish cities.
“Our aim is to take the Robert Graham name along with our Dancing Stag and Treasurer brands to other parts of the UK.
“We are also looking to grow the international customer base through more investment in online marketing channels.”
Johnstone said customers include Americans living or working in the UK who smoke Cuban cigars.
“We tend to find that a lot of customers will originally come in for our range of cigars and will leave with a whisky and vice versa,” he said.
“They are looking for something to spend their hard-earned cash on.”
Lyn Calder, corporate finance director at Johnston Carmichael, who advised Johnstone on the deal, said: “Robert Graham is a solid retail business with an enviable trading history which has lasted for 140 years so far.
“Stephen’s plans to take this business forward are ambitious and exciting, underlining the entrepreneurial spirit which remains stronger than ever across Scotland.”