Scotch Malt Whisky Society bought by private investors

Top story

Losses have widened at The Artisanal Spirits Company (ASC) as the macro-economic pressures weighed on The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) owner in the first half of 2023.

The Edinburgh-based single-cask and limited-edition whisky curator faced a number of headwinds in the six months to 30 June.

Investments in people, systems and future whisky stocks - adding old and rare spirits to the portfolio - to support future growth were the main driver of further losses.

Adjusted EBITDA increased to £1.8m in the half, compared with a £300k loss in the same period a year ago, while pre-tax losses jumped from £1.1m to £3.5m.

However, the its financial year is weighted more towards the second half, with the company projecting a profit for the full year.

Revenues increased 3% in the half to £10.2m, gathering momentum in the second quarter, while SMWS membership grew 9% year on year to more than 39,000, with double-digit growth in Europe, US and Japan.

ASC also expected a continued strong performance in UK venues, helped by the launch of the refurbished The Vaults in Leith at the end of September coupled with a Guinness World Record attempt for the largest whisky tasting worldwide.

CEO Andrew Dane said: “We are pleased to have achieved year-on-year revenue growth, particularly within the context of challenging macroeconomic headwinds in some of our key markets and cost of living pressures, with an increase of +7% in Q2 (following a relatively flat Q1) and are proud to have also continued to deliver strong member growth, +9% up on prior year, which is a leading indicator of future revenue growth.”

He added: “As we look ahead to trading in the balance of the year, despite the ongoing macroeconomic backdrop, we remain focused on delivering EBITDA at the consensus level, with the continued premiumisation trend, our expanding, loyal and engaged membership base and diversified global business model supporting our growth ambitions.”

Morning update

The FTSE 100 started the week flat at 7,711.19pts.

Early risers included Glanbia, with shares up 3.8% to €15.68 after it completed a €100m share buyback programme, AG Barr, up 2.5% to 496.4p, Ocado, up 2.2% to 780p, Bakkavor, up 1.5% to 96.6p, and Hilton Food Group, up 1.2% to 779p.

PayPoint and Fever-Tree are among the early fallers, down 2.2% to 542.8p and 0.9% to 1,276p respectively.

This week in the City

The rest of the week is looking busy on the markets, kicking off tomorrow with the latest grocery till roll figures from NIQ.

The much-delayed Naked Wines finals are due out in the morning, with full-year results also from McBride and grocery tech provider Eagle Eye and a Q3 trading update from Ocado.

The latest UK inflation data is out on Wednesday morning, with General Mills is set to report quarterly results and Dunelm and property fund Supermarket Income publishing finals.

On Thursday, catering and food-to-go group SSP will update investors on its fourth quarter and C&C Group puts out a Q2 trading statement and the Bank of England will announce its latest interest rate decision, while, in wider retail, Next releases interims.

The latest consumer confidence survey from GfK and retail sales for August from the ONS will close out the week.