April 12, 2024

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Chapel Down toasts rising sales as English fizz grabs market share from champagne | Food & drink industry

2 min read

English sparkling wine maker Chapel Down toasted a 14% rise in sales last year to £15m as the company said homegrown fizz makers had grabbed share from champagne.

The Kent-based vineyard, which listed on the Aim junior stock market last month, said it had increased sales of its core sparkling wine by 25% last year helped by a 12% increase in prices.

Sales of all Chapel Down products in pubs and restaurants rose 26% as the brand extended to new outlets, while exports were up 67% as the brand had a successful first year in UK duty free outlets including Heathrow and Gatwick.

The UK’s biggest sparkling wine maker benefited from a shift towards English fizz, with the category increasing retail sales by 16%, while champagne sales were down 9%, according to the market research firm Nielsen.

Andrew Carter, the chief executive of Chapel Down, said: “Chapel Down is the market leader in an industry which is enjoying rapid and sustained growth, we have the strongest and most recognised brand, the deepest distribution which we continue to expand at pace, and we continue to win international acclaim for the quality of our wines.”

One disappointment for Chapel Down was a 7% fall in still wine sales to £2.6m, in a competitive market that was hit by an increase in tax last year.

Sales of the group’s gin and vodka were also down 7% and the company confirmed plans to exit the spirits category by April.

Carter said the “fantastic, record-breaking” 2023 harvest – which was helped by a “near perfect year” for weather combined with more land in production – meant Chapel Down carried “significant momentum into the new financial year”.

While wet weather delayed new planting for some vineyards last year, the lack of frost at key times across most of the country, a warm June, a wet August and a hot September all contributed to a heavy crop.

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Chapel Down said it had gathered in 3,811 tonnes of grapes last year, up from 2,050 tonnes in 2022, and has planted a further 47 hectares (118 acres) at its Boarley vineyard, taking its total land under vine to 366 hectares (906 acres).

Wine makers have been expanding as financial investors bet on a market that has been helped by the changing climate and more professional production techniques.

Michael Spencer, the former Conservative party treasurer and founder of The financial group Nex, previously known as Icap, owns more than 25% of Chapel Down. Eric Heerema, a former lawyer and asset manager, owns its biggest rival, Nyetimber, while the ex-banker Nicholas Coates founded the sparkling wine maker Coates and Seely.

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