SCOTTISH gin maker Eden Mill is looking to ramp up sales throughout the UK after expanding its bottling and distribution hub in Glasgow’s east end, while striking a supply deal with a heavyweight drinks company.

Family-owned Eden Mill has unveiled a new plant at its headquarters on London Road that will hike its production capacity by 350 per cent to four million bottles per year.

The investment has been revealed alongside a new partnership with French drinks group La Martiniquaise-Bardinet Group (LM-B), which is expected to propel sales of Eden Mill’s gins, liqueurs and ready-to-drink (RTD) products in supermarkets throughout the UK.

The news comes as the company presses ahead with its project to build a new distillery in St Andrews, next to its original Guardbridge base. The carbon-neutral facility, which is being built on the University of St Andrews’ Eden campus, will be Scotland’s first purpose-built, bio-massed fuelled distillery.

Eden Mill’s investment in Glasgow comes after the producer saw meteoric growth in e-commerce sales during the pandemic, with sales now running four times higher than they were in 2019. The company has reaped the benefits of bringing its e-commerce operation in-house in December 2019, shortly before the pandemic took hold.

Having initially run an office in Glasgow’s Baillieston area, the company now has an entire direct-to-consumer sales and marketing operation at its site on London Road, where orders are received and fulfilled, data is analysed, campaigns are hatched and products are bottled. It is also where stock is held.

Tony Kelly, co-founder and chief executive of Eden Mill, told The Herald the investment in the increased bottling capacity had been a necessary precursor to the deal with LM-B, explaining that the firm needed to “scale-up” to ensure that it could handle the rise in orders the new distribution partnership is forecast to deliver, while maintaining quality.

He expects that the agreement with LM-B will increase the presence of Eden Mill in the off-trade and supermarkets throughout the UK.

Mr Kelly said: “The Eden Mill gin, gin liqueurs and our RTDs are all really, really popular. Now we have got a team out there that is helping us take it further afield.”

Mr Kelly added: “Our new bottling plant brings immense value to our production capabilities and growth.

“We have a wonderful bottling team here at Eden Mill who throughout the last year were bottling upwards of 2,000 bottles by hand every day, but our investment in new machinery allows us to scale this significantly, producing well over 200,000 bottles a month, with precision and efficiency.”

Eden Mill is on track to turn over in the region of £10m to £11m this year.

Mr Kelly noted he also expects e-commerce sales, which soared by 600% in lockdown, to continue even as Covid restrictions ease.

But he does not expect the same growth rate as seen during the lockdown months, indicating that it would be impossible to maintain that level of momentum. He said: “Although e-commerce has peaked, it is not that high a drop -off. We are four times what we were doing in 2019, so we are still massively ahead of where we were before the pandemic. The growth is still there.”

Mr Kelly emphasised Eden Mill’s commitment to become a “carbon positive” operation, and outlined the role played by consumer views in shaping its decision making.

The new deal with LM-B will see the French group launch a campaign for Love Gin, Eden Mill’s pink gin, in a 70cl bottle that uses 18% less glass than industry standard. “We are finding out what consumers want and talking to them about what they want next [by analysing data],” Mr Kelly said.

Mr Kelly added that the firm was making progress in exports, highlighting the US as a major market. Colombia is one of its newest sales territories.

Meanwhile, Eden Mill is on course to open its new distillery in St Andrews in 2022 – in time for the 150th Open being held in the Fife town.

The £10m project is being spearheaded by Paul Miller, the drinks industry veteran who co-founded Eden Mill with Mr Kelly in 2012.

Eden Mill expects to attract more than 50,000 visitors a year to the new distillery and visitor centre, which offers views of the Eden Estuary and up to the famous Old Course links.

A limited edition cask offering for founder members of the distillery’s1655 Club looks set to be over-subscribed.

The power and heat for the stills will be supplied by a local energy network, generated by biomass plant and field electricity, and there will be solar panels installed by the university on the distillery’s roof and nearby buildings.