Poised to conquer England

22 January, 2010

Scottish spirits chain the Whisky Shop has opened its 15th store and has pledged to grow in England during 2010.

The retailer opened its new shop at Gretna’s Gateway Outlet Village – bringing the total number of Scottish outlets to nine.

It is now looking at opening more stores in England in an effort to “establish an important chain of whisky specialists in the UK that will create a buffer between brand-owning distillers and the supermarkets – and a much-needed marketing platform for premium whisky brands”, according to executive chairman Ian Bankier.

“England remains the best opportunity for expansion, with a virtually untapped market,” he said.

“Our biggest challenge is the cost of doing business on the UK high street, which is uniquely expensive because of the upwards-only rental system and the fact that local authority rates are value-based.

“This has been the major reason behind the great number of retail failures that have occurred so far in this country. It’s a serious problem for everyone. However, the recession has introduced a level of sanity to the rental market and we are able to take advantage of selective expansion opportunities where the costs have now become manageable.”?Sales at Christmas were 15% up on the previous year, making it “the most successful Christmas period ever for the chain”, Bankier added.

Sales on the web were up by a similar amount and on a like-for-like basis the English stores outperformed the Scottish branches.

“We enjoyed an excellent summer due to the strong euro against the pound, the success of the Homecoming Festival in Scotland and the number of ‘staycation’ visitors to Scotland,” he added.

The Whisky Shop is owned by Glenkeir Whiskies, which has its headquarters in Glasgow and employs more than 50 staff.

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