Malt Whisky Society Owner ASC in Leadership Changes

Edinburgh-based Artisanal Spirits Company plc (ASC), owner of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), announced on Thursday that Billy McCarter, formerly interim finance director, has been appointed as chief financial officer (CFO) and to the board of the group with immediate effect.

Artisanal also announced that a new business development director, Chris Leggat, will join its executive team in June.

On March 29, Artisanal announced its 2022 revenue increased 19% to £21.8 million, ahead of expectations “with significant revenue growth in China and UK venues and strong membership growth in Europe, Australia, the US and Japan.”

Gross profit increased 23% to £13.8 million, while loss before tax narrowed to £2.1 million.

SMWS membership growth increased by 12% to over 37,400.

On Thursday, Artisanal said: “In January 2023, following the appointment of Andrew Dane as Chief Executive Officer, the board initiated a thorough and independent search process for a long-term CFO, which comprised both internal and external candidates.

“Following the completion of that process, the board is pleased to offer the position to Billy McCarter which he has duly accepted.

Billy is an ACCA qualified accountant, with strong career financial experience in the whisky and spirits industries including around eight years with Diageo plc and has had a very strong positive impact on ASC since joining the group 15 months ago.”

Artisanal added: “Chris (Leggat) joins from Douglas Laing & Co, the independent Scotch whisky blending and bottling specialist, where he was chief executive (2018-2023), having joined that business as commercial director in 2014. 

“Chris brings with him 20 years’ experience of the global spirits industry, and Scotch Whisky in particular, and is an excellent addition to the team.  He joins ASC in June 2023.” 

Artisanal Spirits Company Chairman Mark Hunter said: “ASC is delighted to have been able to promote Billy McCarter to the role of CFO and to the Board from our existing, strong pool of internal talent. 

“Following the promotion of Andrew Dane to the position of CEO earlier in 2023 the internal appointment of Billy demonstrates the strength in depth of the talent within ASC.

“Since joining the group in February 2022, Billy has demonstrated his value to the organisation and has driven forward leadership of the finance function, whilst demonstrating very strong analytical and leadership skills.

“He is an excellent addition to the board. We also look forward to welcoming Chris Leggat to the executive team who has highly relevant experience in the spirits industry, and whisky segment in particular.

“I, together with the other Directors, very much look forward to working closely with both Billy and Chris as ASC progresses its stated strategy to unlock its significant future growth opportunity.”

McCarter holds no ordinary shares in the company and currently holds 51,400 share options under the firm’s Long Term Incentive Plan. It is expected that a “commensurate further award of options” will be made to McCarter later this year following his promotion to CFO.