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Published:  23 July, 2008

The Scottish drinks retail chain The Whisky Shop is planning to expand into England and open its first shop south of the border by Christmas. Executive chairman Ian Bankier, speaking in Edinburgh at the opening of two shops, which brings the total number of sites in the chain to eight, said: We will continue to grow the business in Scotland, but we will also begin to push over the border into England. We are looking at a number of locations and we expect our first store to open in the run-up to Christmas. It will probably be located in the north of England or in London.' Bankier expects to open a further 20 stores across the UK in the next three years, with the majority located south of the border. This would bring the total number of sites to almost 30, with around half in England and half in Scotland. There is a growing appreciation of malt whisky across the UK but particularly in England, where we believe there is a significant underdeveloped market,' explained Bankier. We will plug that gap by operating in the main out of two shopping centres as well as in high streets across the UK.' Bankier has hit the ground running at The Whisky Shop since he bought the company early this year, after quitting his job as chief executive of CL World Brands (owners of Burn Stewart Distillers). As well as the ambitious expansion programme, Bankier has revamped the look of the stores to give them a fresh, young feel'. The revamp fits in with Bankier's stated aim of bringing more young adults into the category. Scotch whisky is a cosmopolitan drink enjoyed by people of all ages and from all nations. Here in the UK, single malts are fast becoming trendy. We want our stores to reflect that,' concluded Bankier.