William Grant axes 30 UK jobs in reorganisation

11th July, 2014 by Becky Paskin

William Grant & Sons has reorganised its UK distribution arm First Drinks, making a series of staff cutbacks and appointments, and renaming the body William Grant & Sons UK.


The Balvenie will be promoted to high-end bars and retailers as part of William Grant & Sons UK’s new Prestige arm

The UK-based drinks group has made 30 redundancies, mostly from its back office staff, in an effort to streamline the newly-named business.

First Drinks has been wholly owned by William Grant & Sons since 2006.

“We have reappraised our internal and external forces,” said Chris Mason, managing director of William Grant UK. “We have reduced by 30 people who have now left our business, and we were sad to see them go. We also saw the loss of four of the Rémy people who transferred across when the group left us. With change of business comes change of how you approach it.”

Simultaneously, the group has also made 22 new appointments across sales and brand manager roles, with five new positions created under its new Prestige brands department.

Led by Kirsten Grant Meikle, the great, great-granddaughter of William Grant, the Prestige arm will focus on promoting its ultra-premium portfolio to 350 key, high-end on- and off-trade accounts in London like private members’ clubs and specialist retailers.

If successful, Mason added that the model could then be replicated in overseas markets, like New York and Paris.


The new logo for William Grant & Sons UK, formerly First Drinks

Prestige focus

William Grant UK believes the Prestige on-trade sector “plays a huge part in influencing global trial, consumption and shopping habits and London has set itself apart as a leader in international drinks trends, with many hotels and bars aiming to be the most iconic in the capital”.

The group claims there are 620,000 millionaires in the UK, a figure which is forecast to rise 30% in the next eight years. London is the wealthiest city in the world with more billionaires than any other.

Mason also added that the group would be recruiting new brand ambassadors for The Balvenie and Glenfiddich. “Our previous ambassadors were based in Scotland but the epicentre of our business is London.,” he said. “We are close to announcing the replacements very soon.”

Dr. Andrew Forrester, brand ambassador of The Balvenie, and Jamie Milne, brand ambassador of Glenfiddich, have both left the group recently.

William Grant is not the only drinks group to have made staff cutbacks in recent months. In June Diageo was reported to be axing around 200 head office and regional roles, while Pernod Ricard has hinted at job losses through its cost-cutting strategy Project Allegro.

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