By Scott Wright

LOCH Lomond Distillers has flagged a “truly outstanding performance” as its latest accounts show that the company sold more than 200,000 cases of single malt during its most recent financial year – more than double the amount of the year before.

The Scotch whisky distiller, which owns the Loch Lomond, Glen Scotia and Littlemill single malts, declared that long-term investment in its brands was paying off as it reported a 38 per cent rise in turnover to £84.8 million for the12 months to September 30.

The Alexandria-based distiller, which also makes High Commissioner blended Scotch and Glen’s vodka, said the growth had come against a backdrop of continuing challenges related to Covid-19, Brexit and across its supply chain.

Accounts newly filed at Companies House reveal that the company recorded its first profit since 2014, when former Imperial Tobacco executive Colin Matthews led a private equity backed acquisition of the distiller from the Bulloch family. The structure of the deal meant the cost of maturing stock, laid down before the acquisition, was recorded in 2014 at its market value, rather than the cost of its production, which the company said has had a “distorting” effect on results.

The latest accounts for Loch Lomond show that the company reported a headline profit before tax of £2.1m, following a loss of £1.2m the year before.

The company’s accounts since 2014 have also included “significant” non-cash loan note interest accruals through the profit and loss account. In its latest set of accounts, Loch Lomond notes that the terms of these loan note agreements mean that interest will not be payable until repayment, in part or in full, of the loan occurs.

Private equity firm Exponent, which backed the 2014 acquisition, sold its majority stake in Loch Lomond 2019, when China’s Hillhouse Capital Management acquired the majority of shares in the business. Mr Matthews, chief executive, increased the size of his stake further to the Hillhouse deal, which was believed to have valued Loch Lomond at significantly more than the

£210 million it had been sold for in the Exponent-backed deal.

Mr Matthews said of the latest accounts: “Growing turnover by well over a third was a truly outstanding performance from the Loch Lomond team. We have always been confident that investing in the strength of our brands would pay off in the longer term and we are seeing that coming through as consumers around the world recognise the quality of our whisky and our brands.

“In 2020/21 we sold over 200,000 cases of single malt brands which is more than double the previous year. I pay tribute to, and remain incredibly proud of, our resolute, hardworking and resilient team and our supply chain partners for responding magnificently to the challenges of Covid, Brexit and global supply chain issues to achieve this result.”

The accounts show the company held £103.2m of bulk and finished good stocks at year-end, £5.6m lower than the year before. It noted that the fall reflected a “continued sell through of stock acquired for market value in 2014 and the re-balancing of our stocks towards higher value malts in line with the premiumisation strategy within cased goods.”

It added: “The company has continued confidence in the global Scotch whisky industry and continues to invest in achieving growth in its markets around the world.”

Loch Lomond employed an average of 258 people over the period, up from 234 the year before, while staff costs increased to £12.1m rom £11.4m.

Loch Lomond highlighted awards won by its brands at key events over the period, including a “best in show” prize for Glen Scotia 25 year old at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2021. Glen Scotia, one of just three distilleries remaining in Campbeltown, was named distillery of the year at the 2021 annual Scotch Whisky Awards.

The company also deepened the Loch Lomond brand’s connections to the world of sport, building on its status as the official spirt of the Open Golf Championship by becoming official spirit of the Rugby Super League and kit sponsor of Wigan Warriors.

Mr Matthews added: “There is a real sense of momentum around the business as our brands gain the worldwide recognition that we have worked hard to earn through our partnership approach to promoting them in markets around the world. The latest International Wines and Spirits Review data, which has just been released, shows that Loch Lomond is the fastest growing of the Top 25 Global Single Malt brands while Glen Scotia is the second fastest growing of all brands selling more than 30,000 cases globally.

“This is real validation of the great work that we’ve been doing for the last eight years and gives us the confidence to continue to invest in our brands and in our infrastructure to ensure that the Loch Lomond Group growth story goes from strength to strength.”