SPIRITS business Edrington Group has seen its profits and turnover increase by three per cent as it continues to reap benefits from its growth into international markets.
The Glasgow firm, maker of The Macallan, Famous Grouse and Highland Park whiskies, said it was not as badly affected by slowing in Chinese sales as a result of austerity measures imposed by the government there and during the financial year it continue to increase its presence in North America, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
The company's annual report, published yesterday and covering the 12 months to March 31, shows turnover grew from £698.5 million to £730.4 million while underlying pre-tax profits were at £174 million, up from £168.6 million.
Edrington, which is controlled by the Robertson Trust, had taken a near £275 million writedown charge on the value of its Brugal rum brand in the prior year which saw it record a pre-tax loss of £106.2 million. Exceptional items relating to the setting up of new distribution businesses came to £14m in the most recent year seeing the bottom line pre-tax profit settle at £159.4 million.
The 2014 annual report notes Edrington's turnover was £468.3 million five years ago with its profit for 2010 coming in at £118.6 million.
Ian Curle, chief executive said: "I am pleased to report that Edrington has delivered another strong year of growth.
"We remain optimistic about the company's long term prospects despite continuing economic headwinds in some countries and political unrest in others."
The single malt Macallan brand, Edrington's largest, was said to have performed well across all its markets, of which North America remains the largest.
A spokesman said: "There has been some disturbance as a consequence of [Chinese austerity] but Macallan has managed to ride it out as it has so many markets in which it is doing well. We were able to absorb the impact from China very easily."
The US was also key for Highland Park while a new upmarket Cutty Sark variation, named Prohibition, also generating a great deal of interest there. Brugal met its budget in Spain but is still suffering from the depressed nature of many southern European economies. Edrington also plans to push its Snow Leopard vodka, which helps to fund conservation efforts of the animal which bears its name, into Asia and the US.
The spokesman said: "It is our belief that the USA is sometimes mis-cast as a mature market for spirits. It is the largest market for premium spirits and new consumers keep coming into it every year because of the demographics of the US."
The Edrington directors said a plan to bring more of its sales, marketing and distribution in-house in key territories would help in long-term aims to expand further into areas such as south east Asia, Africa and central and south America.
Alongside its investment in additional distillery capacity on Speyside Edrington said it will be adding warehousing on The Macallan estate and upgrading liquid handling systems in Glasgow.
The financial statement shows the aggregate dividend paid in the year was £21.8 million, up from £20.4 million.
Average staff numbers increased from 2250 to 2316 with employee costs rising by almost £10 million to £84.3 million. Directors' remuneration increased from £3.8m to £4.7m mainly as a result of higher payments through a long term incentive plan. The highest paid director received £1.5 million, up from £1.3 million. The annual report states Edrington is proposing to close its final salary pension scheme and it is in consultation with employees over a possible move to a defined contribution scheme.