Chapel Down reports strong 2017 sales driven by both its wine and beer busineses

Chapel Down has announced a 15% growth in sales for 2017 compared to the year before, driven by both its wine and its beer businesses.

Wine sales for the group grew by 20% to £8.1 million, while its beer and cider business - under the Curious Drinks name - saw sales rise 7% to £3.7 million in 2017. Gross profit for each business grew 12% to £3.2 million and 11% to £1.2 million respectively.

Chapel Down recently pledged a new injection of £20 million to ensure “substantial investments” over the coming years in vineyards, the brewery, commercial infrastructure, people and marketing. This follows fundraising activity earlier this year.

Frazer Thompson, chief executive, said: “With seven years of strong compound growth, Chapel Down is maturing to become a player with serious potential in growth markets.

“We believe that there is great potential in our brands. They are well positioned, well managed and in attractive growth markets. We will accelerate our investment in planting new vineyards on the finest land, develop our winery and tourism infrastructure, build out our new brewery in Ashford and continue to innovate and excite the drinks business with initiatives like our gin and vodka.”

Thompson added that the company estimates that Chapel Down represents “over half the growth in English sparkling wine in the off trade”.

He noted also that the company is confident in its plans to double the acreage of vineyards supplying Chapel Down to more than 1,000 acres over the next three to four years.

It has already planted 50 acres this Spring, taking the total planted on long-term leased land to 172 acres since 2015. Chapel Down now has 533 acres of vineyard planted from which to source its fruit.

Sales from its associate company Curious Drinks also rose 7% last year.

Thompson said: “We have a unique and distinctive consumer proposition – a winemaker’s beer – which is increasingly rare in an exciting and fast-growing beer market. This real point of difference along with the ambition of the team have been enhanced by the addition of a new managing director for beer and cider, Gareth Bath, who joined in October 2017 from Brewdog, where he was md. This will enhance an already strong management team.

“The construction of the new brewery and visitor facility in Ashford is progressing well and should start test brews at the end of 2018 and open in the first quarter of 2019.”

He concluded with the statement: “Brexit has had no significant impact on our business to date. We would be affected, like all agriculturally-based businesses, if we were not able to access EU workers for our viticulture.”

The company recently launched Chapel Down gin and vodka, using the skins of its Bacchus and Chardonnay grapes. The products gained immediate listings in Majestic and they are also now available in Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, as well as various on-trade listings. 

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