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Increase in sales helps Loch Lomond Distillery Company turn loss into profit

DRINKS entrepreneur Sandy Bulloch's Loch Lomond Distillery Company has turned a near £200,000 loss into profits approaching £470,000 in its latest financial year, accounts newly available at Companies House have revealed.

The company, which distills both malt and grain whisky at Alexandria, has booked pre-tax earnings of £469,003 for the year ended March 31, 2013. It comes a year after rising costs led to a pre-tax loss of £198,841 at the firm, which owns bonded warehouses and trades as a wine and spirits merchant and spirit broker.

The profit rise was powered by a surge in sales to £23.6 million from £18.5m against a backdrop of rising whisky sales around the world. The revenue increase outstripped a rise in the cost of sales, which rose to £22.7m from £18.3m.

Gross profit at the Loch Lomond distiller, which produces High Commissioner blended Scotch, leapt to £858,945 in 2013, compared with £155,072 the year before.

The improvement in trading comes several months after the company was reportedly a takeover target for private equity firm Exponent, owner of Quorn Foods.

Writing in the accounts the directors, who as in 2012 did not recommend the payment of a dividend in 2013, said: "The directors are happy with the performance of the company and group. With continuous investment in plant and machinery at the site the company is looking to further improve the margin in future years."

One concern for the company looks to have been eased for the time being. It warned when it filed its accounts last year that legislation to introduce a minimum unit price of alcohol would affect sales of High Commissioner Scotch.

A legal challenge brought by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and the Wine & Spirit Trade Association failed at the Court of Session last year. But the groups have pledged to appeal the ruling and a challenge at the European Court of Justice has been mooted amid claims it would hit producers in the European Union.

Loch Lomond's latest accounts reveal the average staff number was reduced to 56 from 65 in 2012. However staff costs rose to £1.93m from £1.78m as directors' pay, wages, salaries and pension costs each increased.

Directors' remuneration was booked at £112,839, up from £110,708, with company pension contributions to money purchase schemes steady at £12,000.

The Bulloch Family Trust owns Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse and William Morton, both subsidiaries of A Bulloch (Agencies), as well as Loch Lomond Distillery.

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