By James Atkinson
Former XXXX senior executive Ken Freer is advising Tasmanian single malt whisky distillery Nant as it executes an ambitious blueprint to increase production tenfold, open a total of 20 bars and ultimately pursue a stock exchange listing.
Freer was managing director of then Lion Nathan subsidiary Castlemaine Perkins between 2001 and 2005. He is now a senior associate of BlueMount Capital, which has been engaged as corporate advisor to Nant.
"Ken gives us more liquor and beverage experience from a retail point of view, he's fantastic," Nant founder and CEO Keith Batt told TheShout.
Nant recently converted to an unlisted public company and is now known as The Nant Distilling Company Limited (NDCL), ahead of a likely float.
"We're setting up this corporate governance and a really good structure so that when the time comes in four or five years time to actually list on some recognised exchange somewhere, we're able to do that," founder and CEO Keith Batt told TheShout.
In the interim, he said Nant is looking to raise $5 million through a convertible note offering to invest significantly in its ongoing expansion. [continues below]
Nant Whisky founder Keith Batt
"When the time comes to list, those noteholders will be able to convert their investment into shares, if they wish," Batt said.
The expansion plans include opening 20 new Nant Whisky bars within the next two years, both nationally and overseas, and boosting distribution channels.
Further planned development includes the construction of an onsite malting plant and the expansion of its brewing and distilling operations to enable full "barley-to-bottle" production of a single estate malt whisky.
Batt told TheShout the existing Nant bars in Hobart and Brisbane, along with the Nant cellar door in Bothwell, Tasmania, are trading well.
"We've got about 1000 people every week visiting our three venues at the moment, we have been very pleasantly surprised with the interest from people," he said.
Immediate plans include a third Nant Whisky Cellar & Bar to open in Melbourne in August, with an exclusive members-only Nant Whisky Lounge to open in Brisbane’s CBD location of Edward Street, also in August.
Batt, whose background is in construction and development, said that by the end of 2013, Nant is predicted to produce close to 20,000 bottles of whisky with capacity to bottle 200,000 bottles by 2016.
"My vision is to grow the company into a global premium whisky brand recognised as one of the best whiskies in the world," he said.
Dr Mark Rainbird, managing director of advisor BlueMount, told TheShout Nant has already demonstrated its ability to successfully grow a "very profitable business".
"Growth is underpinned by the staged roll-out of retail outlets in major capital cities leveraging off their successful retail outlets in Tasmania and Queensland," he said.