THE chief executive of Scotch whisky distiller Loch Lomond Group has revealed the company is currently assessing two potential takeover targets.

Colin Matthews, who led the £210 million acquisition of Loch Lomond from the Bulloch family in 2014, said the private-equity-backed company is open to acquiring brands and distilleries as part of its growth strategy.

But he said it would only consider deals which would make a sizeable difference to Loch Lomond’s scale and help expand the business.

Speaking in today’s Herald, the former managing director of Imperial Tobacco, said: “We would like to [to deals]. We are always keen to look at stuff. We are looking at a couple of things just now actually. There are opportunities which come across our desk fairly regularly and we look at it and say: is it value enhancing, is it value creative for our business? How much time and effort goes into it? Is it the right size?”

The Scotch whisky industry has been comparatively quiet on the acquisition front in recent times. Much of the investment currently being made by distillers is focused on expanding capacity or re-opening mothballed sites.

The most notable deal of 2017 came when industry veteran Billy Walker led a consortium to acquire Speyside’s GlenAllachie Distillery from Chivas Brothers. Mr Walker had previously sold the BenRiach Distillery Company to Jack Daniel’s owner Brown-Forman for £285m in 2016.

Japanese giant Suntory ramped up its Scotch whisky presence in 2014 when it acquired Beam Inc, owner of Laphroaig and Teacher’s.

Mr Matthews said: “I suppose you could go and add on 100 little brands, but I would prefer to have a look at brands which have some sort of scale. Starting from scratch, we can do that ourselves.”

Meanwhile, asked for his views on Brexit, Mr Matthews said he is optimistic that the UK negotiators will do the “right thing” for the country. But he said the best outcome will only be achieved if the voice of business is heard.

Interview, page 23