Distil profit up by 34% despite Covid storm

Spirits company Distil has seen its pre-tax profit rise by over a third after a “nimble” shift towards the grocery sector.

The business, which owns big-name brands including RedLeg Spiced Rum, took advantage of the e-commerce boom and the “essential” grocers that stayed open during the Covid-19 pandemic to raise turnover by 48 per cent.

It moved away from the entertainment, hospitality and travel industries, which have seen long periods of lockdown over the past year.

Though its trading update was largely positive, Distil’s gross margin dipped from 59.2 per cent in 2019 to 55.6 per cent.

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Company executives pointed the finger at “incremental” rises in production and logistics costs as a result of Covid-19.

Export sales rose by 85 per cent to £395,000, with Distil launching products in Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and Africa.

Sales in the UK rose by 45 per cent, though they still account for the vast majority of the business.

Executive chairman Don Goulding praised Distil employees for responding “rapidly to the unique Covid pandemic-related challenges we faced throughout the year”.

“Despite prolonged closure of the important hospitality and travel retail sectors, plus supply disruptions, export shipping complications and remote working, they delivered an excellent set of results,” he told The Grocer.

The news comes after the International Wines and Spirits Record revealed that the alcohol industry had been kept afloat over lockdown by e-commerce and home-drinking.

It predicted that gin consumption would rise by 4.5 per cent every year to 2025, with vodka sales remaining flat.

Rum has been overtaken by tequila as the third most popular spirit.

FinanceFMCG

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