Berry Bros & Rudd toasts bumper year

Independent merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd has toasted a bumper year, after seeing a 17% boost to turnover, up to £170.5 million, and profits trebling.

In May, the retailer opened a new flagship shop at 63 Pall Mall, close to its historic St James’s site

Sales were boosted by a strong year for hospitality year, good sales of own label, up 22%, and the third best en primeur sales in its history. This came on the back of a good quality and quantity harvest in Bordeaux and Burgundy, it said.

Speaking to db in April, chief executive Dan Jago said purchasing Bordeaux in barrel still offered appeal, despite criticism from Robert Parker two years ago that the en primeurs market was “largely moribund”.

“Our customers still love the process of buying en primeur, and that’s because there’s an excitement in it, there’s a pleasure in it,” Jago said.

Operating profit also rose 170.5% to £6.3 million, up from £2.3 million last year, a turnaround from a £2.8 million loss in 2014-15. Spirit sales also rose, up 12% to £17.5 million.

Today Jago, who joined the business from Tesco in August 2015 and has overseen the company’s turnaround, described the strong sales as “an important milestone”, which represented the strongest sales performance for the family-owned business since 2011.

“Today’s results are an important milestone. Over the past 18 months, we have undergone a process of consolidation across all our business areas in order to simplify the organisation, its routes-to- market, and customer channels,” he said. “This has had the desired effect of stabilising the existing business and delivering strong sales growth.”

Chairman Simon Berry said the “terrific” set of results came as a result of Jago and the management team’s success in refocusing the Company’s “core priorities” to ensure it was able to provide its customers with the quality and service they expect.

The Company has also decided to write off historic costs relating to IT infrastructure investment, as well as recording a loss on its US investment, which impacted net profit, but have “significantly cleaned up the balance sheet for future growth,” it said.

In May, the retailer opened a new flagship London shop in St James’s  which Jago described as “much more finely attuned to modern retail”, complete with Enomatic sampling machines and shelving for more than 1,000 wines and spirits.

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