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English single malt whisky distillery The Lakes Distillery has plans to list on the London Stock Exchange to raise up to £15m to fund further growth.

The company, formed in 2011 and commencing operations in December 2014, has appointed N+1 Singer to lead a listing on London’s AIM in the latter part of 2018.

It said a meeting has been convened for later this month at which various resolutions needed to enable the IPO to take place are to be put to the company’s shareholders for approval.

As well as distilling and maturing initial stocks of premium single malt whisky the company has built a portfolio of premium spirits brands including what it claims is a world’s first blend of British Isles whiskies, The ONE; Steel Bonnets, a world’s first of English and Scottish blended malt whiskies; The Lakes Gin; The Lakes Vodka; and a range of flavoured liqueurs.

The company was founded in September 2011 by Paul Currie, COO, when he acquired the distillery site located in the Lake District National Park, and was later joined by Nigel Mills, CEO and Co-Founder in April 2012.

Nigel Mills commented: “The Lakes Distillery has strong brand credentials, is located in an area of outstanding natural beauty, the Lake District National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and has a successful track record of innovation and brand development.

“We believe we are well positioned for growth, with multiple revenue streams, and an appreciating asset in the form of our whisky stock, developed using our multi-oak, multi-sherry led production process.

“We are exploring an IPO as a flexible source of capital to allow us to increase our production significantly, whilst remaining independent and focused on quality, as well as investing in our whisky stock, our sales and marketing capabilities and our distribution channels. Ultimately this will help us to achieve our ambition to build a global luxury whisky brand.”

Morning update

The World Cup and warm early summer weather helped brewer and pub company Greene King (GNK) grow its first quarter like-for-like sales by 2.8%.

The group’s 2.8% like-for-like sales growth in the 18 weeks to 2 September was ahead of the market’s growth of 1.2%.

Sales were up 3.2% over the past 10 weeks.

Greene King said: “This strong performance was underpinned by the ongoing benefits from our sales driving investment to further improve our value, service and quality, and boosted by the weather and a successful World Cup.”

Greene King branded local pubs had LFL sales of 5.5%, driven by very strong LFL drink growth. 3.7m pints of beer were sold in total during England’s seven World Cup matches and LFL sales on the day of the semi-final were up 61%.  

LFL net profit in its Pub Partners division fell 0.4% after 16 weeks, impacted by the timing of higher overhead costs which we expect to balance out over the year.

Total beer volumes in brewing & brands were up 4.0% and own-brewed volumes were up 0.3%.

Greene King added that its cost mitigation programme to help offset gross cost inflation of £45-50m is “on track” and we are making “good progress” in its efforts to refinance and reduce the cost of debt.

It remains on course to dispose of 100-110 pubs this year and expect to open around nine new pubs.

Greene King issued the trading update ahead of its AGM later this morning.

Elsewhere, shoppers have abandoned the high street this summer with sales in August being one of the worst on record according to figures released today by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO.

BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker for August shows UK high street sales declined 2.7% year-on-year - the worst August decline for three years.

BDO confirmed it is the seventh month in a row for negative in-store sales, and the eleventh month in succession where bricks-and-mortar growth has failed to exceed 1%.

As shoppers took a holiday from the high street, total in-store like-for-like sales fell every week of August starting with a 3.9% fall in the first week. Sales continued to fall in by in week two (down 2.9%) and three (down 2.8%), before rallying slightly with the onset of the bank holiday weekend (down 1.1% for the last week).

The fashion sector saw its worst August since 2015, while homewares stores saw sales growth plummet 6.1% year-on-year in August.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: “The high street hasn’t seen any notable growth since October last year. With inflation continuing to bite on the weekly shop and the heatwave driving discretionary spending to bars and entertaining, there is even less disposable income heading to the high street.

“There are signs that retailer margins are being protected through tighter management of stock levels and shortening discount periods. However, next month is going to be an important bellwether for retailers leading into the crucial last quarter of the calendar year.”

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 is flat at 7,317pts.

Greene King shares have jumped 11.7% to 530.6p so far this morning.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 was down yet again yesterday, falling 0.9% to 7,319pts as trade worries continue to weigh on global indexes.

A sell off of global tech stocks hit Ocado (OCDO) and Just Eat (JE), with the former dropper 4.1% back to 998.4p and the latter falling 5.4% to 699.2p. Yesterday represented the first time Ocado has closed below the 1,000p mark since June.

Bakkavor fell back 2.7% to 172.8p, well below its 180p listing price of last November, despite revealing better than expected first half margin progress through top-line growth disappointed.

Other fallers included Majestic WINE (WINE), down 2.6% to 397.5p, Greggs (GRG), down 2.5% to 1,028p, Unilever (ULVR), down 1.4% to 4,223.5p and Britvic (BVIC), down 1.2% to 811p.

Soft drinks groups had a strong day of trading yesterday, benefiting from government plans to curb the sale of energy drinks to youngsters.

The day’s risers included AG Barr (BAG), up 4.5% to 743p, C&C Group (CCR), up 4.3% to €3.56, FeverTree (FEVR), up 2.7% to 3,837p, Premier Foods (PFD), up 2.3% to 42.8p and Nichols (NICL), up 2.1% to 1,487.5p.