DOUGLAS Laing & Co, one of Scotland's oldest whisky bottlers, is doubling capacity and increasing its stocks to help meet strong global demand for Scotch.
The company is set to ramp up capacity at its East Kilbride bottling plant after achieving record sales and profits in the latest financial year.
The family-owned company increased pre-tax profits by 17% in the year to March, to £1.4 million, from £1.2m in the preceding year. Sales surged 13%, to £5.7m, from £5m.
With a range that includes limited editions of malts produced from single casks, the company is on course for another good year. Sales and profits have both increased in the first half of the current financial year.
Fred Laing, who is joint managing director with his brother Stewart, said the company has invested £0.7m in growing its whisky stocks.
"That has taken stock value to £4.7 million at cost – considered a great investment for the future, taking into account perceived stock shortages," said Mr Laing.
Highlighting pressure on the cost of whisky, Mr Laing said the company has continued to exchange or invest in mature stocks when they are available.
For example, the company has increased its stocks of malts from Islay following a 35% increase in sales of the Big Peat blended malt it produces.
The confidence reflects a surge in global demand for whisky, which is being fuelled by rapid growth in areas like Asia.
With headquarters in Glasgow, Douglas Laing & Co does relatively little business in the BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India and Chinam but is faring well in areas like Hong Kong and Vietnam.
"In the Far East, Japan, Hong Kong and Vietnam considerably outperformed budget," said Mr Laing.
While figures compiled by the Scotch Whisky Association indicated Scotch exports fell slightly in the first half of 2012, compared with the record performance in the first six months of 2011, Mr Laing said the company has not experienced any drop in demand overseas.
He said the market in Europe was stronger than expected in the last financial year, with Germany and France performing well.
However, Mr Laing said the market in the UK remains sluggish.
The whisky trade veteran added his voice to calls for the Scottish Government to scrap plans to impose a minimum price of 50p per unit on alcohol sales from spring 2013. He echoed the Scotch Whisky Association's fears that the measure could cause problems for exporters.
"There is no direct negative impact on our own Scottish sales, as all releases are in the premium and super premium arena" said Mr Laing.
He added: "It self evidently opens the door for foreign Governments to damage our Scotch whisky industry by encouraging health justified protection barriers to trade at time thereby undermining decades of improving market access for Scotch. This in turn could lead to reduced export sales."
Founded in 1949 by the Laing brothers' father, Fred Douglas, the company has 26 members of staff and it produces an average of 278 to 361 bottles from a cask of whisky.