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NORTH British Distillery believes a dip in demand for its grain whisky will be reversed and that activity will pick up to meet growing demand for blended Scotch.
The Edinburgh plant, one of Scotland's largest grain whisky producers, saw pre-tax profits slip from £7.6 million previously to £7.2m during the 12 months to 31 December. Sales were 7 per cent lower at £54.6m.
The decline was the result of both "marginally" lower order levels and reduced selling prices, and was flagged up by North British in its accounts for the previous year, which also showed a decline in sales. However, chairman Ian Curle has hinted at a better showing in 2011.
"Distillation activities are expected to show an increase in 2011 reflecting increased demand from customers in laying down inventory to meet future need for blended Scotch whisky," he said in his review.
Curle is chief executive of Edrington Group, which together with Diageo owns North British in a 50-50 joint venture.
North British does not market a brand of its own, with the vast majority of its output sold for blending in brands such as Johnnie Walker Black Label, The Famous Grouse, J&B Rare and Cutty Sark.
Founded in Edinburgh's West End in 1885, North British today has about 160 staff. The site is currently undergoing a three-year investment programme aimed at improving its energy efficiency.