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IPO in sights of Scotch Malt Whisky Society owner

Mark Hunter: ‘privileged’

Artisanal Spirits Company, the owner of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, is considering a stock market flotation following a sharp rise in sales.

The global membership group has announced strong results for 2020, defying the US hike in tariffs, and has hired global drinks industry veteran Mark Hunter as chairman.

The company said the appointment of the former Molson Coors CEO recognises its desire to lay the foundations for the next stage in the company’s growth and ASC has appointed N+1 Singer to explore options, including an IPO.

ASC said it has benefited from the growing demand for premium single cask Scotch malt whisky domestically and overseas.

Revenues grew to £15 million, driven by a 30% increase in ecommerce sales and continued international success.

Overseas trade now accounts for 69% of overall revenues, against 59% in 2019 and 54% in 2018.


Global membership of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society increased 4% in the year to c28,000, owing to an increase in the number of sign-ups made through online channels.

Overall, EBITDA (including other income) increased by £0.5m to £0.6m, despite the negative impact of £0.7m, as a direct result of the US’s 25% tariff on single malt scotch whisky, which was imposed in 2019 and recently lifted.

The largest international market by value is China with more than £3m of sales followed by the US on £2.7m.

The ASC said it expects continued strong growth overseas, particularly in China,, Germany, Japan and the US.

Paul Skipworth, who has now moved into the role of deputy chairman of the Artisanal Spirits Company, said:“Over the past five years as chair, I’m delighted that company revenues have nearly tripled, stock levels have quadrupled and the business has changed positively and dramatically from being 80/20 UK/International to around 30/70 UK/International. 

“The foundations for success have been built and are delivering results year on year. Further ambitious plans are under consideration. I have no doubt that the future is bright for the ASC.

“I believe that the ASC is extremely well positioned to take advantage of the global consumer trends of premiumisation; digital engagement and e-commerce; internationalisation of brands and consumers and the consumer thirst for knowledge on the creation, authenticity and heritage of the products that they consume.

“Combined with its stock holdings and supply relationships with over 100 distilleries worldwide, I believe that the ASC will continue to grow strongly in the years ahead.”

New chairman Mark Hunter is a seasoned global alcohol industry leader having managed some of the world’s leading alcohol brands in a career spanning over 30 years.

Most recently he was president and CEO of Molson Coors and has significant experience in the North American, European and other international markets. He is a current non-executive director of TreeHouse Foods Inc, a US-listed manufacturer and distributor of private label packaged foods and beverages.

He said: “I feel very privileged to take on this role at such an exciting time for ASC and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

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“SMWS is a special organisation, delivering only the very best single cask, single malt whisky, craft spirits and entertainment to its loyal members around the world. Working alongside the ASC executive team,

“I am committed to continuing the work of my predecessor, Paul, in ensuring the Society continues to grow and thrive while protecting the distinctive culture and values that make it so unique,”

David Ridley, managing director of the Artisanal Spirits Company, said: “Attracting someone of Mark’s calibre to ASC is testament to the success we’ve had and the opportunities that lie ahead.

“Mark knows the alcohol industry inside out, but just as importantly is a proud Scot who loves our product, buys into our philosophy and lives and breathes the same values we do.”

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