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Lanarkshire’s Glencairn Crystal posts record sales as whisky boom fuels demand

GLENCAIRN Crystal has recorded another year of double-digit growth as the booming popularity of high-end spirits brands stokes demand for the glassware it designs in Scotland.

Lanarkshire-based Glencairn grew sales to a record £11.3 million in the year to April 30, from £10.2m last time, after maintaining the strong growth it has achieved in recent years at home and overseas.

Owned by the Davidson family, Glencairn has become a global success story after capitalising on the premiumisation trend sweeping through the international drinks industry.

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The company specialises in designing decanters and packaging which can be used to add lustre to drinks that malt whisky producers and the like target at affluent consumers.

Rapid economic growth in countries such as China has fuelled demand for drinks seen as prestigious.

Product development director Scott Davidson said in the past year the company had been commissioned by over 30 different brands to create bespoke packaging for some of the oldest and most luxurious single malt whiskies ever released.

Glencairn recently supplied nosing glasses and a jug for inclusion in a trunk produced to showcase Glenfarclas malts, which sells for over £100,000.

Mr Davidson said he had seen no signs that growth in the malt whisky market was starting to flag.

He noted Glencairn had also done well overseas after responding effectively to developments in other drinks markets.

The firm has won business from more than 400 craft distillers in the US. These include Tuthilltown and Garrison Brothers. Brown-Forman, which produces Jack Daniels bourbon, is a customer.

US sales topped £4m in the latest year. The figure includes around £1m online sales of the company’s whisky glass.

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The glass has tapered sides, to help people enjoy the smell of its contents.

Mr Davidson said Glencairn has made good progress in China in recent months.

The company has worked with Chinese firms that are sourcing malts for use in limited edition bottlings, such as the Whisky Corporation. It is investigating opportunities to work with local drinks producers.

Glencairn has also received a boost to business as a result of the emergence of craft gin producers in the UK.

Mr Davidson noted it has produced promotional glassware used by firms such as St Andrews-based Eden Mill.

The wins have helped Glencairn consolidate its position as a leading player in an industry niche which it helped create.

The company’s potential was recognised by the London Stock Exchange in January. It was one of seven Scottish firms selected to join the ELITE programme for fast-growing companies.

Glencairn employs 10 people who work on assembling decorated decanters. This can involve applying specially designed metal parts to decanters the company buys in.

“It maybe only produces 50 pieces a day but it’s high value activity and very few people in the world are doing it,” said Mr Davidson.

The company has grown total employee numbers at its East Kilbride base to 65 in the latest year, from 60.Mr Davidson expects employee numbers to grow in the coming year.

Glencairn plans to boost production capacity. The firm wants to increase the number of tasks completed in Scotland to give it more control over its supply chain.

While Glencairn did not disclose details of profits Mr Davidson said it had performed strongly on that count.

Mr Davidson’s father Raymond founded Glencairn in 1981. He focused on niche markets after seeing the difficulties UK volume producers faced while working at Edinburgh Crystal.

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