Scottish wholesaler JW Filshill is aiming to double the footprint of its Keystore fascia in England to more than 20 stores in the next 12 months.

Filshill retail sales director Craig Brown told RN the business’s range of craft alcohol is one area it will use to try to attract new retailers. “One of our strengths has always been specialist alcohol, such as gin and ale.

“Categories such as craft alcohol are growing in popularity. We have a range of Scottish products that are popular with customers across Scotland because of their locality. However, there’s also growing demand for these products in England and giving retailers this range can help them stand out in a crowded market place.”

He added specialist alcohol currently makes up 10% of average sales across some of the top-performing Keystore retailers, but expects this to increase with further investment. The company’s 10 Keystore shops south of the Scottish border are based as far away as Bradford and Harrogate in North Yorkshire and it is targeting expansion in these areas.

Mr Brown’s comments come as Scottish-based wholesaler United Wholesale Grocers prepares to enter England after its takeover of AF Blakemore’s Gateshead depot is completed on 4 June.

However, Mr Brown said Filshill would not be pursuing a similar strategy. “We’re not looking to do anything similar by opening any depots in England. At the moment, we just want to focus on improving the fascia through range and the support we offer to each of our retailers.”

“We’ve grown due to frustrations with consolidation in the market. Retailers want more independence and the ability to contact their symbol group whenever they need to. Our scale allows us to do this and we can continue offering a personal service throughout the week.”