Stock Spirits appoints new chief executive and refocuses business on Poland

Francesca Washtell
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Stock Spirits Group is the leading flavoured vodka producer in Poland, although it has a sizeable presence across central Europe (Source: Getty)

Stock Spirits' activist investors will be pleased today after the company appointed a new permanent chief executive and said it is already seeing positive results from boosting its operations in Poland.

The troubled Eastern European vodka maker has appointed former interim chief exec Miroslaw "Mirek" Stachowicz as its new leader, after former head Chris Heath stepped down in April.

Heath's departure was part of a wider shareholder rebellion, in which major investor Western Gate Private Investments and others pushed to bring the company's focus back to Poland and Eastern Europe, after management indicated it would pursue an M&A strategy elsewhere in Europe.

Read more: Stock Spirits knocked back as activist investors win board appointees

Releasing its first half results today, Stock Spirits revealed its revenue was up €8m (£6.8m) to €116m in the six months end 30 June. Operating profit more than doubled to €12.5m, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose to €17.9m, up from €10.8m in 2015.

Total volumes were up to 5.4m nine-litre cases, up from 4.9m in the same period of last year, while new distribution agreements in Poland with Synergy and in Slovakia and Italy with Distell were announced in July.

Performance in other markets was in line with expectations, while "positive results" were emerging from the management focus on turnaround in Poland.

Read more: Is the Stock Spirits activist investor rebellion an omen of things to come?

The company has announced an interim dividend of €0.0227 per share, following the announcement in June of a special dividend of €0.119 per share.

New chief exec Mirek Stachowicz said:

I am delighted to have been appointed chief executive and pleased to announce Ebitda growth across all our markets for the first half of this year, after a difficult 2015.

The board is particularly pleased that the many initiatives we have put in place in Poland are starting to show positive results, with market share being regained across our core traditional trade outlets. Although the recovery is in its early days, the board is confident that the strengthened management team in Poland will be able to build on this encouraging start over the coming months.

Stock Spirits, the biggest supplier of spirits in Poland and Czech Republic, floated on London’s Alternative Investment Market in October 2013 at 235p, giving the company an initial valuation of £470m.

Shares dived last November following a profit warning. Its stock closed up two per cent to 162.75p today.

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