Scottish brewer Innis & Gunn is planning to expand in the US after reporting strong sales for its beer both in the UK and abroad in 2009.

Net sales for the 12 months of 2009 rose to GBP4.39m (US$6.5m), up by 31% on 2008, Innis & Gunn said today (29 March).

An off-trade focus for the brewer's oak-aged, namesake beer in the UK helped it to strongly outperform the market, with a 17% rise in sales to GBP1.56m.

Export sales, meanwhile, leapt by 63% for the year, to GBP2.08m. 

The family-owned group, which last year paid off debt related to its separation from Scotch whisky distiller William Grant & Sons in January 2008, said that it expects more growth in 2010.

"With Innis & Gunn USA Inc. established last month and the door opening on a massive opportunity, we anticipate further healthy growth in 2010," said managing director Dougal Sharp.

"Our record in developing new export markets speaks for itself and with the craft beer category accounting for 16% of all beer sales in the US, we’re confident the Innis & Gunn taste profile and brand will resonate strongly with drinkers over the pond," he said.

In the UK, Innis & Gunn has harnessed a consumer shift from pubs and bars to drinking at home.

Around 95% of Innis & Gunn sales are in the off-trade, in which the brand claims to be the third biggest speciality beer by volume and value, behind Leffe and Hoegaarden.