Fine & Rare records rapid growth

Fine & Rare is forecasting a 50% increase in turnover for the end of 2011.

“We did £53 million last year and this year we think we will be 50% up on that,” said Simon Davies, head of marketing at the fine wine broker, during an interview with the drinks business.

The company’s growth has been impressive over recent years, with 2010’s turnover almost double the £27.98m achieved in 2009.

Much of this sales expansion is attributable to an increase in international trade, with exports from the London headquartered company experiencing a 153% growth rate over three years to total £36m. Demand from Asia has been instrumental in this, helped by Fine & Rare’s Hong Kong office, which was opened in spring 2009.

Davies also said that the firm’s 2010 en primeur campaign had been particularly successful. “The volume and value of our 2009 campaign has been matched by the 2010 campaign this year and I don’t think any merchant achieved the same in volume and value.”

However, he added that while 2009 Bordeaux represented 10% of Fine & Rare’s sales last year, 2010’s wines would account for a smaller percentage because the business has grown overall.

Davies attributed this year’s strong en primeur performance to the broker’s new marketing strategy for the campaign. “This year we developed our own website just for the primeur campaign,” he said, “and we put a lot of work into it.”

“We are big believers in the vintage,” he continued, adding, “But some of the prices were clearly wrong and we were scathing about them. For example, Pichon Baron came out at one price and we sold lots, but then Pichon Lalande came out at a higher price and the customers didn’t buy. We try to point out where the value lies.”

Speaking of the buyers of this year’s releases, Davies stressed, “The vast majority buying 2010 [Bordeaux] were people in the UK, something like 95%.”

As for how much of that was speculative purchasing for investment purposes, he said, “We did a survey halfway through the campaign and got over 600 responses, and from that, the number who said they were buying purely for investment was less than 10%, which was really heartening as it means we are selling to the end user.”

Speaking more generally of Fine & Rare’s strategy he said that the merchant was aiming to “diversify what we offer.”

“We don’t want to occupy that position as just a top cru classé merchant,” he concluded.


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