UK: Inver House bullish despite profits fall

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Inver House Distillers has insisted it is performing "ahead of expectations" despite seeing profits fall last year.

The spirits group, which is owned by brewer and distiller Thai Beverage, has posted a 12% fall in operating profit to GBP2.6m (US$5.1m) for 2006. Turnover dipped 1% to GBP38m.

Sales and marketing director Malcolm Leask said today (3 April) that the drop in earnings had been due to increased investment behind its brands, particularly Old Pulteney and Balblair Scotch whiskies. In February, Inver House relaunched Balblair single malt as a "vintage-led" whisky.

Leask told just-drinks: "We have put a lot of effort and money into marketing our brands, which we believe should bear fruit going forward. We are definitely investing for the future."

Managing director Graham Stevenson said Inver House had also incurred higher interest charges in 2006 as the company invested "a lot of money" in laying down whisky stocks for its Scotch whisky portfolio.

Leask added: "That investment shows a serious commitment to the future, not just in the window dressing of sales and marketing."

Inver House has seen sales grow in three key single malt markets, the US, the UK and Sweden. Leask said that growth has given Inver House confidence for the year ahead. "As I always say, it's a marathon not a sprint but we are confident that we will outperform 2006."

Thai Beverage bought Inver House last October when, through its international arm InterBev, it secured the acquisition of the UK group's owner, Pacific Spirits UK

Sectors: Spirits

Companies: Thai Beverage

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