First Drinks has restructured its business and rebranded as William Grant & Sons in order to better align its international and UK business.

The company, which launched its annual market report last night, said the move highlighted its history and provenance while offering a wider global focus which would help it deliver a more integrated global strategy, as well as making it more easily recognisable to consumers.

MD Chris Mason said the evolution was a positive step that would allow the company to benefit from the international footprint of the group.

“We are in a good position to drive long-term value for our outstanding portfolio of premium spirits by continued investment and strong working relationships with customers and our partners. This approach will enable us to deliver successful business solutions to our customers, to the benefit of their customers,” he said.

The move follows a restructure of the business which has seen the convenience and grocery channel combined into one off-trade channel under off-trade sales director Andrew Clifton, with a new prestige channel set up to cover high end in both the on and off-trade. It will cover retailers including Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, and the Whisky Exchange

The five-strong prestige team is headed up by Kirsten Grant Meikle and will target high net worth clients across London, China, Russia, and the Middle East. “We know those people who’ll spend to buy rare bottles and prestige brands and those people straddle across travel, retail, events and on-trade. It’s about touching consumers with the same message,” Grant Meikle said. “We want to be exceptional in prestige and get our products into the right places, events and maximise premium spirits.”

There was a “huge opportunity” for further growth of premium spirits, Grant Meikle said, and consumers were seeking out limited or unique products.

Three Barrels Honey

The company is also launching a new honey flavoured variant of its Three barrels brandy. The 30% abv Three Barrels Honey will launch exclusively into Morrisons from Monday (14 July) before gaining nationwide distribution from September.

William Grant said the move was the largest innovation in the brandy sector in a decade and the softer, sweeter profile was an “accessible” way to attract a younger demographic to an “unloved” category.

“Brandy is a massive but unloved category in the off-trade and a huge proportion is private label,” off-trade sales director Andrew Clifton said. “Three Barrels has the most loyal shoppers but its consumers are getting old.” 

The company is considering launching other variants once the new launch gains traction, but said honey was the “logical” first step.