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Off-Piste Wines sees turnover fall

UK supplier and brand owner Off-Piste Wines saw turnover tumble in the year to January 2020, citing tough trading conditions, Brexit’s impact on currency and global harvest issues, according to documents filed at Companies House.

The Cheltenham-based wine supplier and brand owner saw turnover fall 5.9% or £2.3m to £37,312 down from nearly £40m in January 2019. Gross profits also fell by £0.6m.

This shows a difference to the previous two years, which saw sales growth of 14% and 17% respectively, despite a competitive and “challenging” market.

“The political forces we have seen post-Brexit, and especially their negative impact on GBP, have undoubtedly made for a much harder trading environment. The financial year was also impacted by the worst global harvest in a generation and for the first time in living memory demand was greater than supply, which made it hard to find available wine to grow the business.”

2019 saw operating profit fall by a third to £1.8m down from £2.m the previous year, although the company said the planned £0.3m increase in investment in its flagship Most Wanted brand along with the recruitment of senior managers following the addition of investment partner BGF, who took a minority holding in the company in December2019, would help lay the foundations for a return to “significant growth” in the 2021 financial year.

BGF (the Business Growth Fund) helped inject a £8m boost to the company as part of a wider plan treble the size of Off-Piste’s international business over the next four years to account for around 20% of sales, up from around 7% in 2019. As part of the acquisition, former Diageo CMO and regional president Andy Fennell and BGF investor Alex Garfitt joined the Off-Piste Wine board, while former Waitrose buyer Maria Elener also joined the team as head of European sourcing and supply.

Currently UK sales accounted for around 92% of the business, with around 7.5% coming from Europe – a rise of half a percentage point on last year following European sales up 5%, or £155,000 – and 0.5% from the rest of the world, which fell by £235,000.

Although outside the reporting period, the company noted the impact of restrictions due to the Covid 19 pandemic, but said it had been proactive and quick to respond and so far had not needed additional bank facilities or government funding.

It said that although it was impossible to predict how things are likely to develop as things stand in October 2020, “the business continues to trade in line with expectations and is continuing with planned recruitment and new product development launches”.

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