The move will create a new force in Scottish drinks distribution with combined turnover of £75 million and a workforce of 200.
IM managing director Stephen Russell said Forth Wines sales in England – which account for 22% of Forth’s business against less than 10% of IM’s – was an attraction. “Although the focus for me is still Scotland, the deal certainly paves the way for us
to go more aggressively into England,” he said.
The move represents further consolidation in the Scottish marketplace coming two years after IM was created through the merger of Inverarity Vaults and William Morton.
Forth Wines has been operating independently since 2010 after a private equity-backed management buyout from Matthew Clark.
Two of the team behind that MBO, Ian Cumming and Alan Cramond, will join IM as commercial director and director of finance.
Russell added that Forth’s 75,000sq ft depot at Milnathort, in Perth & Kinross, will improve the overall operation’s
distribution capability. “At the moment we handle
all our deliveries from our warehouse in Glasgow, which is already running at capacity,” he said. “Having a second depot in Milnathort will make a big difference to our logistics operation by helping to reduce road miles and improve our delivery schedules.”
Russell said the companies will run independently until after Christmas to avoid disruption to customers, before any big decisions are made about the future.
He added that Forth’s portfolio of exclusive UK agencies, such as Lomond from South Africa and Australia’s Chocolate Box – along with Scottish agencies including Bodegas Lan from Spain – were also an attraction in making the move for Forth.
“The first project our buying teams will get stuck into is integrating and expanding the wine list,” he said.
“Our wine portfolio is one of our biggest selling points and we work tirelessly to ensure it remains unequalled on breadth, depth and value.”