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Wholesaler's profits increased ahead of sale to new owners

GLEN Catrine Bonded Warehouse has seen a near 44 per cent rise in its profits in the financial year before the business was sold to new owners.

The drinks wholesaler and bonded warehouse operator, which has its head office in Largs, Ayrshire, has now been re-named GCBW Catrine.

Accounts recently filed at Companies House show turnover increased 1.45 per cent from £38.6 million to £39.16 million in the 12 months to the end of September, 2013.

Much of the uplift was as a result of better European sales with turnover there growing from £2.27m to £2.9m. The UK was steady at £32.45m and the rest of world up slightly at £3.78m.

There was a reduction in the cost of sales, from £29.4m to £28.6m, with most other expenses remaining steady.

Pre-tax profits for the year came in at £4.6m, up from £3.2m, helped by an improvement in gross margins from 23.8 per cent to 26.9 per cent.

Writing in the accounts the directors said: "The majority of the company's turnover was generated from UK sales, but there were also sales to Europe and the rest of world.

"Despite changes in the drinks market the company managed to increase turnover and margins during the year under review."

GCBW was part of the drinks empire controlled by Sandy Bulloch and his family.

In March this year private equity group Exponent took a majority stake in Mr Bulloch's Loch Lomond Distillery Company alongside a management buy-in by a new executive team.

That was led by Colin Matthews, previously with Imperial Tobacco, with former Diageo executives Nick Rose and Richard Miles also involved.

Although no value has been released for the deal industry sources suggested at the time it could have run into tens of millions of pounds.

It included the purchase of the Loch Lomond Distillery in Alexandria and the Glen Scotia malt distillery in Campbeltown, both of which produce single malts.

The bonded warehouse in Catrine, East Ayrshire, and a bottling plant where whisky, vodka, gin, rum and brandy are packaged up for international markets and private labels were also part of the package.

GCBW Catrine remains owned by ABA Eaglesham, formerly A Bulloch (Agencies), although its trading assets were sold in the deal.

Writing in the GCBW accounts the directors said: "The company is continuing to operate with its management team working with the new business owners as consultants, using their vast expertise in the drinks market.

"The company will provide management and consultancy services for the foreseeable future and has retained its investment property as an income source."

The accounts show the company's stocks were valued at almost £3m at the year end, up from £1.95m.

Directors' remuneration was £701,707, which was down from £825,272 although the highest paid individual saw a rise from £270,204 to £278,877.

The average number of monthly workers dipped from 124 to 120, with employee costs down from £3.59m to £3.57m.

The accounts show the business had net funds of £17.2m, up from £8.2m, after seeing strong cashflow in the year.

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