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Chapel Down in Tenterden increases sales and gross profits by a third

By Chris Price

Winemaker Chapel Down increased sales by a third to £8.2 million last year and enjoyed its second best ever harvest.

The Tenterden-based company, which also makes beer and cider, has revealed it increased gross profits by 36% to £3 million and earnings before interest, taxes and other charges grew 6% to £507,000.

“Chapel Down has enjoyed another excellent year of growth,” said chief executive Frazer Thompson.

Chapel Down wine sales are up 27%
Chapel Down wine sales are up 27%

“English wines, which are now being internationally recognised for their consistent excellence, has been the bedrock of our business.

“Demand is continuing to rise and we are developing a very strong brand to ensure we continue to maximise the potential that is being created through the consumer and trade excitement in cool climate wines.”

Overall wine sales were up 27% as the stock from the 2013 and 2014 harvests became available for sale and beer and cider sales were up 50%.

However, the business failed to make a profit, recording a loss before tax of £279,000, up from nearly £40,000 last year, after it was forced to pay charges for cancelled share options.

Chapel Down chief executive Frazer Thompson
Chapel Down chief executive Frazer Thompson

Chairman John Dunsmore said the uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum has had “no real impact” on the business so far.

However, he conceded: “We would be affected, like all agriculturally based businesses if we were not able to access EU workers for our viticulture and the expertise in winemaking available in Europe.”

Chapel Down, which also has vineyards in Blue Bell Hill and the Weald, revealed earlier this month it raised £1.7 million through crowdfunding and new shares to build a new brewery in Ashford for its Curious Brew beer brand, due to open next spring.

Earlier this year it was named one of the 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain by the London Stock Exchange.

The brewery Chapel Down will build for its Curious Drinks beer and cider in Ashford
The brewery Chapel Down will build for its Curious Drinks beer and cider in Ashford

Mr Dunsmore said: “We continue to drive our top line without sacrificing margins and we are building strong brands.

“We continue to drive our top line, maintain our margins and invest the proceeds into building our brands and business for the long term.

“We have excellent fast growing brands in two very exciting markets and a strong balance sheet. We have blue chip customers, good export potential and enthusiastic and thirsty consumers.

“We have more stock of our wines available and more customers wanting our beer and cider.

“With the construction of our new brewery on a highly visible site in Ashford, the development of our site in Tenterden and the continuing shift in demand towards high quality drinks made with passion and care, we remain confident that the prospects for the group are excellent.”

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