Related tags Scotch whisky

When Food Manufacture analysed the Value Added Scoreboard published by the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) earlier this year, the spirits...

When Food Manufacture analysed the Value Added Scoreboard published by the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) earlier this year, the spirits industry was the stand-out sector. By the DTI's reckoning, companies like William Grant, Diageo and The Edrington Group stood out in terms of both labour productivity and profitability.

And of these top performers, one company -- Edrington -- was the clear leader. So it's not a huge surprise that this distiller, best known for its Famous Grouse, Macallan and Cutty Sark whisky brands, should also rise to the top in the beverages category.

Last autumn, Scotland's First Minister, Jack McConnell, officially opened what Edrington described as "the world's most technologically advanced Scotch whisky bottling line" at the group's Great Western Road site in Glasgow. Edrington had invested £2.2m in the system which enables it to fill 600 bottles per minute on this line alone.

It formed the bulk of a £3m investment in the Great Western Road bottling hall, which was in turn part of a £20m package over the past few years to cement Edrington's place as an industry leader.

The Food Manufacture Excellence Awards judges are notoriously reluctant to hand out honours purely because companies have deep pockets. But in Edrington's case the positive results are already coming through. Asset utilisation and bottling productivity has risen 20% since this latest round of spending, and the new line -- which incorporates leading edge robotic technology -- is handling around 40% of Edrington's 85m bottles annual production.

And the improvements have not been limited to equipment. It has also invested in IT with the development of e-Whisky, a bespoke e-commerce system driven by Edrington's SAP business system.

E-Whisky allows customers worldwide to place orders and check shipments on-line, 24 hours a day. They can also get access to brand and technical data, input demand forecasts and order point-of-sale materials.

The system required a six-figure investment, but is helping to streamline transactions, cut out duplication and reduce input errors.

"Edrington is clearly a group that wants to move forward," said one judge. "It's a company that has put huge effort into upskilling and innovation, and it will be a wake-up call for the whole spirits industry."

Category: Beverages

Winner: Edrington

Shortlisted: Extreme Drinks, Hook Norton Brewery, Tetley Tea

Sponsored by: Fiske

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