The head of Swedish whiskey maker Mackmyra has said smaller distillers face an uphill battle in export markets because of a lack of spending power.

CEO Magnus Dandanell, who last month announced a major cost-cutting programme for the company after losses in 2013 increased five-fold, said the potential for whiskey “has never been better”. But, he added: “The down side is you have to be local, you have to be present in the market.”

“We are a small company,” Dandanell told just-drinks. “To get the sales going at a good pace, in far-away markets, you have to put a lot of resources into that, and we don't have the power to do it everywhere. We have to pick our fights.”

The cost-cutting programme aims to save the company SEK20m (US$3.2m) a year and will include cutting 15 staff from a 45-person workforce. Dandanell said the cuts will mainly come from administration and management and not from sales. “This is just the first warning of job losses,” he said. “Right now, in we are in negotiations with unions.”

In 2013's full-year results Mackmyra saw negative earnings growth and a SEK25m loss compared to SEK5m in 2012.

“We need to have better growth and we haven’t had that growth, so we have to balance the costs side,” Dandanell said.

Mackmyra will now focus on sales in Sweden and northern Germany, preferring not to seek out new export markets.

Dandanell said: “We have been focussing on building international distribution, and that has cost a lot. But, the job has been done, so we don't need to bring in new distribution channels - we already have that.”

Mackmyra is the biggest selling whisk(e)y in Sweden's super-premium category. It exports to countries including the UK, France, Belgium and Canada.

In October, it launched Mackmyra Midvinter in Sweden and Nordic Travel Retail outlets.

Expert analysis

The Future of the Spirits Market in Sweden to 2017

The Future of the Spirits Market in Sweden to 2017

The report presents detailed data on the Spirits consumption trends in Sweden, historic and forecast consumption volume and value at market and category level, brand share, alcoholic strength, price more