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Halewood Wines & Spirits sees FY profits triple

UK-based Halewood Wines & Spirits has disposed of its majority stake in West Cork Distillers at the same time as reporting a 319% increase in operating profit in the year ending 30 June 2018.

Halewood Wine & Spirits’ portfolio includes Whitley Neill Gin

The owner of brands including Whitley Neill Gin, Liverpool Organic Gin, Aber Falls Welsh Gin and Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer saw operating profit grow by 319% to £13.4 million (US$17.12m) from £4.2m (US$2.3m) in 2017. Revenue for the period increased by 19.5%.

The Liverpool-headquartered firm also announced that it had disposed of its non-core business: its “loss-making” Romanian wine business, which was sold to Romanian spirits firm Alexandrion Group in July 2018, and its investment in Irish whiskey producer West Cork Distillers.

Halewood acquired a “significant” stake in West Cork Distillers in July 2016 to expand its footprint in the Irish whiskey category.

The group said it would continue to “focus on its strategy of being the leading player in artisanal gins in the UK and expanding to other large international spirits markets”.

The firm attributed growth to its strategy of developing premium ‘craft’ spirits and beers, continued investment in brand marketing, route-to-market distribution and vertical integration.

Halewood also said its £50 million investment programme in acquisitions, brands, distilling, brewing and bottling capabilities helped to create a range of brands with “strong regional provenance”.

Key investments during the year included the completion of the Aber Falls Distillery in Wales, the purchase of Cornish rum brand Dead Man’s Fingers and Polish vodka brand Vestal.

The company’s H&A Prestige bottling solutions operation also performed well as “demand for specialised packaging and new artisanal spirits remains buoyant”.

In South Africa, “results remain steady despite political difficulties and rand fluctuation”.

The firm is planning “further investment in premium craft spirits, vertical integration, distilling and brewing capability to further enhance its portfolio”.

Stewart Hainsworth, group chief executive, said: “Halewood has delivered an exceptional year of profitable growth, winning the coveted ‘gin distiller of the year’ award and numerous other industry accolades.

“The strategy of offering artisanal gins across all channels, regions and consumer price points has transformed the business with an incredible performance from Whitley Neill Gin that is now the best-selling premium gin in the UK.”

In May last year, Halewood Wines & Spirits appointed financial advisory group Rothschild to explore “potential sale options” as the company grows internationally.

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