JW Filshill launches craft beer export division

Glasgow wholesaler JW Filshill has expanded into the export market, setting up JW Filshill International Ltd – trading as The Craft Beer Clan of Scotland – to help Scottish craft brewers sell to the lucrative Asia market. The new company, with support from Scottish Development International (SDI) and Scotland Food amp; Drink, is drawing on the expertise of David Moore, a respected Asia Pacific consultant, and beer industry veteran Chris Miller, ex-chief executive of Harviestoun Brewery.

Four breweries are currently involved: William Bros Brewing Company, based in Alloa; Eden Brewery of St Andrews; Perth-based Inveralmond Brewery; and the Deeside Brewery, Banchory. Craft Beer Clan of Scotland has already completed a successful trade mission to Asia, attending WhiskyL in Beijing and Shanghai plus events in Taipei and Seoul.

Filshill boss Simon Hannah (pictured) said: “We’ve identified an opportunity to target Asia Pacific consumers who already love and buy Scotch whisky, and our initial trade mission to the WhiskyL events confirms there is an appetite for quality, Scottish craft beers – the number of people visiting our stands at WhiskyL far exceeded our expectations.

“Chris Miller has worked with the four breweries to pull together a strong and carefully chosen portfolio of beers that we believe will strike a chord with Asia Pacific consumers who are already aficionados of Scotch but are adventurous, want to try something new and will embrace the stories behind some of these fantastic Scottish craft beers. We were genuinely surprised and delighted by the trade and consumer reaction to some of the more interesting and challenging flavour profiles, including beers featuring Scottish ingredients.”

Over the past six months, Hannah has built a team of “Clansmen” boasting unrivalled breadth of experience not just in the Asia Pacific market but within the beer and whisky sectors including Moore, who founded consultancy business Eastmoore when he returned to Scotland in 2013 after working for 12 years throughout Asia Pacific with Diageo; Miller, chief executive of Solstice Brands, which develops collaborative growth strategies and commercial support for craft beer producers in both domestic and international markets; Charles MacLean, one of the world’s leading whisky writers; JongWoo Kim, who has more than 25 years in the global consumer packaged goods industry; Joe Tcheng, former managing director of South East Asia and latterly Greater China for Diageo.

Industry body Scotland Food amp; Drink’s chief executive, James Withers, who has facilitated a number of meetings with interested breweries, commented: “The craft beer sector is one of the most exciting chapters in Scotland’s food and drink story right now. Unlocking our export potential is a key strategic priority for the industry and the new Scotland Food amp; Drink export plan has identified 15 markets which represent the greatest opportunity. China and South East Asia are two that have the most potential, with consumers increasingly looking for premium products with a strong provenance story – a perfect fit for our craft brewers.

“A crucial element of future export success from Scotland will be collaboration and The Craft Beer Clan of Scotland looks like a great emerging model for this. Scottish food and drink exports are at a record high and I’m confident this momentum can continue with developments like this.”

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