While some businesses reluctantly shuffle to the table of corporate responsibility, others embrace it gladly. Edrington is seated firmly among the latter.

As Crawford Gillies explains rather eloquently in his chairman’s statement published along with the group’s latest financial results, Edrington does not “pursue growth for its own sake”. This is quite an unusual ideology in the world of business yet hasn’t stopped the group from breaking through the £1 billion sales barrier while also posting a 43% surge in annual pre-tax profits.

He goes on to say: “Edrington was created as a purpose-driven business decades before that term would have been recognised. The company’s values play a significant role in attracting and retaining exceptional talent, and in the way we operate internally.

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“As a result our culture continues to help drive our performance, placing Edrington consistently among the top performers in the global spirits sector.”

Jaded observers might dismiss such statements as banal rhetoric conveniently deployed to tick the boxes under the CSR checklist, but Edrington is owned by The Robertson Trust, which was set up in 1961 for the specific purpose of distributing Edrington’s dividends to charities across Scotland. To date it has donated £343 million to worthy causes.

Edrington performed so well in the year to the end of March that in addition to a 10% increase in dividend payments, it returned a further £220m to its owners via two share buybacks. This was done in conjunction with pay increases for its 3,000 employees, the absorption of higher energy and commodity costs, and a 28% increase in brand investment.

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Despite economic headwinds Edrington did not flinch from pulling out of Russia, previously its fourth-largest market. The group suspended shipments almost immediately upon the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and fully exited Russia in July of that year.

As a privately-owned business the group is not required to follow the UK’s corporate governance code, yet it voluntarily observes “those elements of governance and disclosure that are appropriate”. A full 21 pages in the annual report are dedicated to outlining how Edrington fulfils it obligations on corporate governance, sustainability and responsibility.

No organisation is perfect, of course, but on virtually every front Edrington appears to take the long-term view on what is best for its business, employees, shareholders and the wider community. Today’s results show that far from being mutually exclusive, profitability and conscientiousness work hand-in-hand.