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William Grant & Sons Sales Top $1.9 Billion, But Company Warns Of 2020 Decline

December 27, 2020

William Grant & Sons has revealed that its turnover increased 7.5% to £1.43 billion ($1.92b) last year, generating profits up 20.7% to £314 million ($424m). But the company says that the pandemic and resulting economic deterioration have stunted progress in 2020, “causing major disruption for the business, the spirits industry, and society as a whole.”

William Grant currently estimates that its 2020 performance will show a sales decrease of “around 15% and, despite significant reductions in advertising spends and other costs, a decline in profit after tax of over 30%.” William Grant & Sons’ U.S. volume is estimated at 3 million cases, according to Impact Databank.

“The performance during 2019 delivered another year of growth with a continued focus on our premium brands even in the face of increased competition from the major international drinks companies,” the company stated. “Fortunately, this put the Company in a stronger position to weather the significant downturn in business in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has severely impacted the Company’s main markets, including Global Travel Retail.”

In announcing the results, William Grant & Sons noted successful initiatives like the introduction of new packaging for Glenfiddich 12 and 15 Year Olds; the launch of Glenfiddich Grand Cru, a 23 Year Old single malt Scotch whisky finished in rare French cuvée casks; and the debut of the limited edition Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice, a summer-themed small-batch gin.

It also highlighted ongoing investments in its brands and global infrastructure, which recently included the purchase of a distillery in Mexico to support the growth of its Milagro Tequila label. That move was part of a “multi-million pound investment plan to build its brands globally and upgrade its infrastructure to support its growth ambitions,” the company told SND in October.

Also in October, William Grant & Sons announced that Simon Hunt, who led the company since 2016, was stepping down and leaving the group, with a successor to be named in due course. In the meantime, William Grant & Sons chairman Glenn Gordon and CFO Giles Wilson have assumed Hunt’s duties on an interim basis.

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