Views from the Top: Fraser Thornton


Ever wondered who’s behind the brands that you sell? Here’s the second of nine of Scotland’s drinks bosses, Distell International’s Managing Director Fraser Thornton, with his plans for 2020, including a steer on what he thinks you should be doing with your business.

Fraser Thornton

On-Trade Director

Distell International

How long have you been in the role and what do you most enjoy about it?

I have been in the drinks Industry for 25 years and in my current role as Managing Director of Distell International for 2 years. The real joy of our business is the geographic diversity of markets we sell our brands in. It provides a wonderful  opportunity to travel and understand different cultures and consumers and their relationships with alcohol and brands

Why the drinks industry and what do you love about it?

I joined the Scotch Whisky Industry initially because I wanted to work in a sector which helped generate value for the economy. With Scotch being export dominated that was my initial attraction. I only subsequently realised what an iconic category for Scotland Scotch Whisky is and, once you realise how aspirational the product it is and the extent to which consumers around the world aspire to drink brands of Scotch Whisky, you really don’t want to walk away.

How do you plan to drive the business forward in 2020?

We have a wonderful portfolio of brands at Distell spanning Scotch whisky, South African whisky, Cream liqueur and Gin and we have growth opportunities across many geographies around the world. The key for us in 2020 is being very focused with our brand marketing programmes ensuring we invest wisely and targeted on our key brand and market combinations.

What is the best stress-buster when things get particularly challenging?

Playing squash. The physical effort involved is so intense you simply can’t think about anything else when you are playing

Which piece of advice would you pass on to licensees that are looking to grow their business?

Focus on the quality of service generally (and the quality of serve particularly), and the range you provide. Consumers really value choice and the quality of the experience.

If you had a pub what would you call it and why?

Fraser’s Sports Bar and Diner. I think there is an authenticity and honesty about putting your name to something and, being a sports fan, the theme could only ever be one thing really.

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