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Tenterden's Chapel Down and its Curious Brewery in Ashford see sales soar but losses add up

Wine and beer producer Chapel Down has seen a major rise in sales, as it releases its half-year financial report.

The company, based in Tenterden, says year-on-year combined sales soared by 21% to £6.74m.

Chapel Down's Kit's Coty vineyard
Chapel Down's Kit's Coty vineyard

But on-going major investment - most notably in its Curious Brewery in Ashford - saw its losses add up with losses in the six months up to June 30, 2019, rising to £1.7m. It lost just over £546,000 over the same period last year.

It put the losses down to a "conscious decision to continue investing ahead in our people, our systems and our brands".

The £1.7m Curious Brewery was finally opened, after a two month delay, in May.

But it says the 2018 heatwave, which benefited grape growers in the county, allowed it to increase stocks by 37% to £8.2m due to the "extraordinary harvest".

Elsewhere, Chapel Down wine and spirit sales were up 19% to £4.75m, while beer and cider sales in Curious Drinks Ltd increased by 15% to £1.99m.

The Curious Brewery opened in May
The Curious Brewery opened in May

In addition, over the last six months, an additional 154 acres of new vineyards were planted on the North Downs in Kent close to its Kit’s Coty vineyard

Frazer Thompson, chief executive, said: “Our focus remains delivering solid top line growth at good margins whilst we continue to invest ahead to ensure we continue to build strong and sustainable brands that our consumers and customers love.

"Brands that are relevant with which they can engage and that provide memorable experiences. To help us do that, we have invested in creating a Gin Works at Kings Cross and a modern visitor experience at our new brewery to complement the existing vineyard at Tenterden.

"It is encouraging that interest in English wines – and Chapel Down in particular – continues to grow.

"With demand for our wines continuing to exceed our ability to supply, we are greatly encouraged by the prospect of another outstanding harvest with excellent yields and high quality fruit. We have been planting more vines on truly exceptional land to help meet future demand. We planted a further 154 acres of new vineyards in May 2019 taking our total supply acreage to 789 acres. The current planted acreage will be fully productive by 2023 and in an average year it should be producing some 2.2m bottles of wine."

"We have completed the build of our iconic new brewery to great acclaim in the centre of Ashford.

Chapel Down chief Frazer Thompson says the investment will deliver long-term benefits to the firm
Chapel Down chief Frazer Thompson says the investment will deliver long-term benefits to the firm

"The new brewery will give us greater control over our growth and also bring improved margins and a highly visible point of difference. Sales growth has been frustrated by the loss of our contract brewing partner suddenly and the late completion of the brewing kit. Despite the disruption caused by this, the new brewery is a big and highly visible step forward in the brand’s journey."

"We will continue to work to build a better business that excites consumers and investors. ”

Read more: For all the latest business news for Kent

Read more: For the latest news from Tenterden

Read more: For the latest news from Ashford

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