SMWS owner names chair and eyes IPOBy Nicola Carruthers
The owner of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) has appointed Mark Hunter to the role of chair as the firm considers launching an initial public offering (IPO).
Artisanal Spirits Company (ASC) owns SMWS, a membership organisation which bottles and sells single cask, single malt whisky.
Hunter takes over the role from Paul Skipworth, who will become deputy chair of the company.
Hunter’s career in the drinks industry spans more than 30 years. His most recent role was as president and CEO of brewing giant Molson Coors.
Hunter is a current non-executive director of US-based Tree House Foods, which produces private label-packaged food and drink.
Hunter said: “SMWS is a special organisation, delivering only the very best single cask, single malt whisky, craft spirits and entertainment to its loyal members around the world.
“Working alongside the ASC executive team, I am committed to continuing the work of my predecessor, Paul, in ensuring the society continues to grow and thrive while protecting the distinctive culture and values that make it so unique.”
ASC said the appointment of Hunter is aligned with the firm’s aim to ‘lay the foundations for the next phase in the company’s growth’.
The firm is exploring a possible IPO on AIM, part of the London Stock Exchange.
ASC said 2020 was a ‘strong year’ for the firm, boosted by ‘growing demand’ for premium single cask, single malt whisky across the world.
ASC’s revenue rose to £15 million (US$21m) in 2020, led by a 30% increase in e-commerce sales and ‘continued international success’. Non-UK trade made up 69% of the firm’s total sales last year, compared with 59% in 2019 and 54% in 2018.
The SMWS was founded in Edinburgh in 1983. The organisation was previously owned by The Glenmorangie Company, which sold SMWS to a group of private investors in 2015.