UK: Inver House Distillers buys vodka RTD

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The Scotch whisky company Inver House Distillers Ltd has purchased Wee Beastie Ltd, the UK flavoured vodka producer. The price of the acquisition was not disclosed.

"Wee Beastie has experienced phenomenal success in Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland since its launch two years ago. There has been a 105% growth in sales in 2002 compared to the previous year with turnover in excess of £1m on the back of annual sales of approximately 200,000 cases. The marketing and sales expertise of Inver House will now provide a springboard for further expansion into the rest of the UK and overseas," Inver House said in a statement.

Wee Beastie is a carbonated vodka drink flavoured with raspberry and blackcurrant.

Inver House said it believes there is considerable scope for broadening the drink's market appeal.

"We intend to capitalise on Wee Beastie's impressive growth to date and continue to innovate with new product development, which is vital in this market sector," states Nial Mackinlay, UK sales director for Inver House.

"We will also be looking to capitalise on our existing international distribution network and expand the export potential for the brand. Although it currently enjoys huge popularity amongst younger drinkers, we feel the potential across the whole consumer sector is considerable."

Wee Beastie, which comes in a 275ml bottle, is also available as the Big Beastie in a 70cl bottle. The product range includes the Iron Beastie, also available in a 275ml bottle, as well as Lemon Ice Beastie due for launch next month.

Wee Beastie founders John and Anne Hempstock, who reached the Scottish final of Entrepreneur of the Year in 2001, will continue to work with the brand in the area of sales and new product development.

John Hempstock says: "The Wee Beastie company has enjoyed remarkable growth and we felt that, in order to most effectively build on this good foundation, additional resources were required. Inver House can offer this resource base and we are looking forward to significant expansion."

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