"we have enjoyed great success in delivering fine whisky"
Brothers Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh have sold The Whisky Exchange for reportedly hundreds of millions of pounds to Pernod Ricard.
They founded The Whisky Exchange in 1999 and it became one of the first online whisky specialist retailers, with a turnover of £72 million in 2020.
Their parents, who emigrated to the UK from India, became the first Asians in the UK to be granted a liquor licence.
They opened a wine and spirit store in northwest London. It was named off-licence of the year in 1992.
The brothers grew up helping out their parents.
Meanwhile, Sukhinder began collecting miniatures during the mid-1980s before moving onto full-size bottles a few years later.
By the mid-1990s, the duo were among the largest collectors of whisky in the world, amassing a collection of 5,500 miniatures.
After selling the collection to a bar in Oslo, the brothers came up with a plan to launch their own drinks business.
The business has a range of 10,000 products, including 4,000 whiskies, 3,000 of them Scotch single malts.
The Whisky Exchange also has 400 champagnes, 800 Cognacs and Armagnacs, 700 rums, 500 gins, 400 tequilas and 300 aperitifs.
The acquisition by Pernod Ricard includes the brothers online business, three Whisky Exchange shops in London, a whisky auctioneer and a private sales business.
The deal does not include a separate business owned by the brothers called Elixir Distillers Ltd. It also does not include Speciality Brands.
In announcing the sale, Sukhinder said:
“Since we started The Whisky Exchange 22 years ago we have enjoyed great success in delivering fine whisky and spirits to people around the world, not just via our retail business but also through the subsequent businesses that have emerged.
“The last few years, in particular, have brought about a period of rapid growth that has highlighted the need for us to bolster our experience, resource and infrastructure to deliver the next stage of business and strong demand for premiumisation development, and we’re excited to have agreed this deal with Pernod Ricard to help achieve this.
“Myself and my brother Rajbir are looking forward to remaining at the helm of the business and helping drive future growth for the global drinks industry.”
The brothers added that they were committed to continue at the company as joint managing directors. They will use the time “to develop integration plans for the future”.
Although the price was not disclosed, Edward Mundy, a drinks sector analyst at Jefferies Group, estimated that it could be as much as £429 million.
He added that the deal was “a further step on Pernod’s journey towards becoming a conviviality platform company, with e-commerce offering both faster growth and premiumisation opportunities”.
The acquisition marks the latest in Pernod-Ricard’s “consumer-centric strategy of meeting new consumer needs and expectations in a context of solid e-commerce growth.”
According to Alexandre Ricard, Chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard:
“E-commerce is a key channel in our long-term strategy.”
“We are thrilled to work with industry pioneers such as Sukhinder, Rajbir and the whole team to bring The Whisky Exchange to a new step of its development.”
Pernod Ricard was created in 1975 through the merger of Ricard and Pernod.
Today it owns 16 of the world’s top 100 spirits, including Absolut vodka, Martell Cognac, Beefeater gin, Mumm champagne and Jacob’s Creek wines.
It is the second biggest Scotch whisky group behind Diageo, with brands including The Glenlivet and Ballantine’s.