GLENCAIRN Crystal, which supplies glassware used to showcase high end spirits, has achieved record growth in sales after capitalising on the US craft distilling boom and sees potential to win lots of business in China.
East Kilbride-based Glencairn grew revenues by 20 per cent annually in the year to 30 April taking sales through the £10 million barrier for the first time.
Owned by the Davidson family, Glencairn grew profits in line with sales, leaving the firm in a strong position to invest in growth.
The company continued to benefit from the boom in demand for whisky which has helped the firm to more than double annual sales over the past six years.
Glencairn has carved out a valuable niche for itself as a specialist in the design of bottles and accessories that are intended to reinforce the upmarket standing of premium drinks.
In the latest year the company designed a ruby inlaid decanter used by Speyside’s Glenfarclas distillery for a 62-year-old malt. The magnum-sized version is marketed for £75,000.
A range of Scottish distillers have launched premium ranges of single malts amid strong demand for such products in Europe and the Americas and among members of the emerging middle classes in countries such as China and India.
Scott Davidson, new product development director, noted that besides doing well in the market to supply UK-based producers the company prospered overseas in the last year.
Exports accounted for more than 50% of sales for the first time.
The USA proved a particularly happy hunting ground with sales doubling.
Mr Davidson noted Glencairn’s success in the market to supply glassware to craft Bourbon distillers. These are benefiting from growing interest among consumers in drinks made by independents with a story to tell.
“There are 1,500 craft distillers and we are working with three or four hundred,” said Mr Davidson, who was in the Bourbon heartlands of Kentucky last week.
He said Glencairn has provided added-value branded glassware for craft distillers from all over the states citing Tuthilltown, Balcones, Journeyman, Garrison Brothers, Sonoma County.
Glencairn sees potential to win lots of business from drinks makers in China and from local firms supplying premium whisky.
UK firms are selling Scotch in China in bottles designed by Glencairn.
The company won a contract last year to supply ornate decanters used by a Hong Kong-based firm for a premium bottling.
Glencairn will use social media platforms such as Weibo to build awareness of the company in China.
Mr Davidson said the 29% growth in sales of the firm’s Glencairn Glass in the latest year also provided testimony to the fact that consumers around the world are looking to enhance their spirit drinking moments.
The glass was designed by Scott’s father Raymond, who founded Glencairn Crystal in 1981. It has tapered sides, to help people enjoy the smell of its contents.
The company sells over three million glasses annually featuring hundreds of brands. They are distributed to over 70 countries worldwide.
Besides drinks companies, Glencairn’s clients include BP, Cunard and the Houses of Parliament.
Glencairn grew employee numbers in East Kilbride to 60 in the latest year, from 52.
The business designs products in East Kilbride and completes work such as engraving there. It sources decanters and bottles from suppliers.
The company is boosting capacity in East Kilbride and expects to increase employee numbers in coming weeks.
“Our staff have been fantastic,” said managing director Paul Davidson. He added: “We pride ourselves on hiring the right people … and on bringing on new, young recruits that can learn the business.”
Raymond Davidson founded Glencairn Crystal to focus on niche glassware markets such as corporate gifting. He saw the difficulties UK producers faced in the volume trade while working at Edinburgh Crystal.