Off-Piste Wines eyes expansion after investment boost

UK wine supplier and brand owner Off-Piste Wines has secured £8m worth of investment to expand its business internationally – particularly in the US – after selling a minority stake in the business to investment firm, The Business Growth Fund (BGF).

The Cheltenham-based wine company, which was founded in 2007, has spent the last year eyeing up potential partners to boost its international growth, which is plans to nearly treble within five years.

Speaking to the drinks business in July, director Paul Letheren said the company’s international sales currently accounted for around 7% of total sales, but it wanted to expand this to around 20% over the next five years, focussing on four or five key international countries or territories.

At the time, he said the team would be looking to sell a minority interest in the business, in return for “a proper partner” to help it grow.

Following the move, Andy Fennell, former CMO and regional president at Diageo, will join the Off-Piste Wine board as chairman, along with BGF investor Alex Garfitt, working alongside existing md Andy Talbot, founders Ant Fairbank and Paul Letheren.

According to documents filed at Companies House last week, chairman Jerry Lockspeiser and sourcing and supply director Clem Yates MW have stepped down as directors.

Talbot said the company had been set up to “do things differently” and it had developed strong, trusted partnerships with a carefully selected group of like-minded producers in its favourite regions.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with BGF for this exciting next step – having an investor with market expertise and that is also invested in our vision for the business is crucial,” he said.

One area of development is likely to be in the canned wine sector. Currently Off Piste Wines’ Most Wanted brand is the top selling canned wine in the UK with around 31% of overall value sales, according to Nielsen, which along with its PinotPinot Pinot Grigio fizz range accounts for around 61% of total overall £3.6 million UK canned wine market. Although it saw growth of 125% in the year to August 2019, this is still only a fraction of the size of the US$70 million category in the US.

The company saw sales of £40m in 2018 and was listed on the 2019 Sunday Times HSBC International Fast Track 200.

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