Milnathort drinks depot to close

Changes in Scotland's drink driving laws have been partly blamed for the closure of the Forth Wines depot
Changes in Scotland's drink driving laws have been partly blamed for the closure of the Forth Wines depot

Scotland’s largest independent wines and spirits merchant, Inverarity Morton (IM), is to close its regional depot in Milnathort.

IM’s managing director, Stephen Russell, cited tough trading conditions combined with spiraling maintenance costs at the Perthshire site as key factors in the decision.

“The last 12 months haven’t been easy for the licensed trade,” he said.

“A lot of businesses are counting the cost of the aftermath of the new drink:drive legislation in Scotland and continued slow economic recovery. Poor trading has had a knock-on effect on our business.

“We conducted a full business audit in order to identify ways to cut costs without compromising our service. Moving our entire business under one roof made complete commercial sense and will allow us to operate far more effectively and efficiently.”

The company moved its headquarters to larger premises in Glasgow last September, investing £3m in the refurbishment of the 100,000sq ft site, for IM’s 140 staff, and the installation of leading-edge logistics and back-office systems.

The depot in Milnathort came with the acquisition of Forth Wines in 2013 and over £500,000 is now needed to upgrade the site, which Forth Wines had otherwise planned to vacate and sell for residential redevelopment.

These steep renovation costs, Mr Russell added, further influenced the decision to close.

“We looked at all the avenues open to us and the most feasible solution was to close Milnathort,“ he said.

“At the time of the acquisition, having a second depot was invaluable, because we were bursting at the seams in our old HQ. Now that we have moved, we are more than able to absorb the entire Milnathort operation within our existing infrastructure so our customers will see little or no difference to the way their accounts are managed.”

The company will now engage in a consultation process with affected staff, hoping to minimise redundancies among the Milnathort workforce. The management team is looking at measures, including relocation packages, for the 29 employees based at the site in telesales, admin, warehousing and marketing.

The closure will be phased between March and May, the 75,000sq ft site eventually being put up for sale.

As a composite drinks distributor to the licensed trade, Inverarity Morton employs over 200 people and supplies over 3000 on-trade outlets in Scotland. The firm is a recognised centre of excellence for wine and spirits training and picked up Best Wine and Spirits Wholesaler of the Year at the Scottish Bar & Pub Awards 2015.