Profits halved at strike-threatened Speyside whisky-maker Chivas Brothers last year, the company’s annual accounts have shown.
The firm, which is part of Paris-based wines and spirits giant Pernod Ricard, said the results reflected the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on its trading.
Accounts published by Companies House showed its pre-tax profits fell to £252.7million in the year to the end of last June, from £539.3m in the previous 12 months.
Turnover at the firm, which includes Chivas Regal and the Glenlivet and Aberlour single malts among its portfolio, fell from £1.1billion to £949.2m over the period.
In the strategic report accompanying the results, the company said: “Travel restrictions significantly impacted demand in the global retail channel of the company’s trading at the same time as many countries and markets were applying a variety of restrictions and measures in an effort to control the spread of the virus mostly resulting in the closure of the hospitality sector including restaurants, bars and clubs (“on-trade”).
Sales of its Chivas Regal flagship blend fell by 19% year-on-year, while The Glenlivet was down by 3%.
Chivas Brothers chairman and chief executive, Jean-Christophe Coutures, said: “Like most industries, the pandemic has significantly impacted the entire Scotch whisky sector, with the export value of Scotch falling by £1.1bn in the last year – its lowest level since 2010.
“However, we are confident in the resilience of Scotch and the strength of our brands, and continue to focus our collective efforts on achieving long-term business success, job security, and growth in the years ahead.”
Glasgow-based Chivas Brothers employs around 1,600 people in Scotland and owns 11 malt whisky distilleries in Moray, one near Grantown and another in Kirkwall in Orkney.
Earlier this month members of the GMB and Unite unions at the firm voted in favour of industrial action across all its operations, from distilling to bottling, over a pay freeze.
The ballots were called after Pernod Ricard gave pay rises to workers in France earlier this year.
Union leaders warned action, including strikes, could start before the end of the month.
The company has said its remains committed to seeking a resolution to the dispute.