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Chapel Down Winery suffers profits slump after two poor harvests... but is raising a glass to Curious Beers

By Chris Price

Two years of low harvests have caused pre-tax profits to fall flat for a Kent winemaker.

Poor yields in 2011 and 2012 meant Chapel Down Winery reported pre-tax profits of £68,000 in 2013, down from £414,000 the year before.

But, despite selling 24% less wine, the Tenterden-based company saw sales revenue increase 4% to just over £5m.

Chapel Down Winery
Chapel Down Winery

This was mainly thanks to a 119% increase in sales of its Curious Beers range and was also buoyed by a 10% increase in average selling price.

The company said it has enjoyed an “excellent” harvest this year and raised £4.35m of new funding for expansion plans.

Chairman Paul Brett said: “Whilst it is unusual to have had two low yielding harvests in a row, our development of reserve stocks and great relationships with key customers has enabled us to trade through successfully.

“It is pleasing to start to see an uplift in the UK economy, as this remains our primary market.

“However, we will be further broadening our geographic reach through exports of our sparkling wines and beers.

Award-winning Chapel Down Vineyard, Small Hythe, Tenterden
Award-winning Chapel Down Vineyard, Small Hythe, Tenterden

“Wine duty is up a staggering 52% since 2008 and whilst the Chancellor has stopped the duty escalator, our young industry would benefit from these revenues being reinvested for growth.

“Regardless of future duty increases, maintaining a strong brand is our best defence.

“Despite the challenging business and investment environment, the team was delighted to secure £4.35m of new funding at the beginning of July at a premium to the prevailing share price.

Chardonnay grapes in the sun at Chapel Down
Chardonnay grapes in the sun at Chapel Down

“The new funds will ensure the group continues to thrive, whatever the weather.”

Immediate plans include expanding wine production by securing more fruit.

The company’s extensive land assets also continue to appreciate in value.

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