Blog: Olly WehringPrivate-label Scotch prices - heading north, but wait and see

Olly Wehring | 7 August 2006

Frustration seemed to give way to satisfaction in the Scotch whisky industry last week, on one issue that has long irked many distillers - the prices of private-label Scotch.

UK retail prices of own-label Scotch have long been in the doldrums and most distillers usually refuse to discuss the situation, frustrated, no doubt, that there seemed no prospect of improvement.

However, Whyte & Mackay, which sells over half its volumes as private-label Scotch, has indicated that there may be light at the end of the tunnel. The company’s managing director Bob Brannan told just-drinks last week that retail prices were rising for the first time in 15 years.

Brannan said the firming of prices at the UK’s big four supermarkets over the last three months, plus growing sales of the company’s branded labels, had convinced Whyte & Mackay to hang on to its Invergordon Distillers business to safeguard its stock levels. Whyte & Mackay had put the business, which mainly produces own-label Scotch whisky for UK supermarkets, up for sale last year.

The decision to keep Invergordon could be a positive sign that the prospects for own-label are indeed improving. However, Whyte & Mackay’s figures on the price of private-label Scotch apply only to the summer months - traditionally a quiet time for Scotch sales. Let’s see what happens closer to Christmas when retailers are only too keen to slash spirits prices and launch promotions to drive footfall.


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