Distil sales grow 97% in fourth quarter

14th April, 2020 by Nicola Carruthers

Red Leg Spiced Rum owner Distil reported a 97% revenue increase for the three months to March 2020, boosted by an uplift in consumer demand amid the coronavirus crisis.

Distil partnered with Franklin & Sons last year on a Red Leg rum and coke RTD

UK-based Distil, the producer of Blackwoods gin and vodka, and Jago’s Cream Liqueur, said it had experienced “significant” year-on-year growth for its fourth quarter.

Between January and March 2020, the company’s sales grew 80% by volume and 97% by value due to “strong individual brand performance together with the impact of Brexit inventories in 2019”. Investment in brand marketing increased by 87%.

Don Goulding, executive chairman of Distil, said the fourth quarter was in line with the group’s “ambitious forecast”. However, world events such as the covid-19 pandemic saw growth achieved “through a very different mix, particularly during March”, Goulding said.

“As the outbreak of covid-19 advanced through our markets, immediate steps were taken to protect both our employees and our business,” he said. “Production timing was advanced and we moved all staff to working from home with secure remote access.

“My team responded well and I thank them for their efforts in delivering these impressive results during challenging times and for adapting rapidly to temporary new ways of working.”

“Our brands enjoy sales through a tightly managed product range with a broad distribution base and we have therefore been able to adapt to the changes in product mix, trade channel shift and additional uplift in consumer demand.

“Whilst supply chains have been seriously tested during this time, we are grateful to our distributors, customers and logistic partners for their efforts and skills in maintaining availability of our brands to satisfy this high level of demand.”

Alcohol sales in UK supermarkets and corner shops rose by 22% in March, according to Kantar data cited by Distil. Goulding said that sales revenue for its brands increased 50% in March 2020, compared to the same period last year.

“At this stage it is too early to forecast accurate market trends over the next six months, but our brands are relatively well positioned and we will continue to work closely with our trade partners and customers to ensure we maintain stock cover and flexibility through this period,” Goulding added.

“When the market returns to some sense of ‘normality’ or a new normality, we will be prepared. It’s important for us to continue to work with both on-trade and off-trade customers to create a range of new products ready to meet those new and changing consumer needs. We are, therefore, advancing new product development with our production partners, designers, distributors and customers.”

Distil will also contribute to a number of non-profit organisations and charities to support the drinks industry during the pandemic.

Last month, Distil and The British Honey Company terminated their joint venture due to the coronavirus outbreak. The two companies had planned to make a range of botanical spirits.

In September 2019, Red Leg teamed up with tonic water producer Franklin & Sons to create a pre-mixed rum and coke.

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