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High UK en primeur demand and Asian growth fuels strong BI sales

Published:  25 July, 2017

Fine wine trader BI has reported a 43% uplift in turnover to £50m for the first half of 2017, marking the strongest period of sales for the company for several years.

The figures, which saw sales of Bordeaux up 49% and Burgundy rise by 36%, revealed that Asian demand accounted for 50% of total sales for the group, while UK buyers remained firmly in the running for en primeur wines, accounting for 70% of sales, despite challenges presented to UK buyers by unfavourable FX and economic uncertainty.

Sales through the company’s Live Trade platform, an online platform for sales of fine and rare wines, topped £17m, 56% up on the same period last year, with Asian buyers accounting for 70% of the wines traded.

Elsewhere, rare spirits, led by whiskies, jumped 79%, again with demand primarily coming from Asia, underpinjned by favourable exchange rates for eastern buyers.

BI also reported a growing diversity in the global market for fine wines, citing a lift in Champagne sales of 38% and US wines by 39%, plus growth in Rhone purchases, as evidence of this broadening interest beyond the stalwarts of Bordeaux and Burgundy.

“The diversity of demand is encouraging, and suggests that the global market is maturing very nicely,” said Gary Boom, BI managing director.

Speaking on the company’s 2016 Bordeaux en primeur campaign, which was the strongest since 2010, Boom suggested that investors had piled in on the back of a quality 2016 vintage, also looking ahead to the challenges of a weather-battered and almost certainly much reduced 2017 harvest.  

“Recent history also suggests that a strong Bordeaux en primeur campaign will support and emphasise the prevailing market sentiment of the time - much as it did in 2009 and 2010 and in reverse for 2011-2014,” said Boom.

“Moreover, the plight of the 2017 harvest, which has been heavily hail and frost affected, suggests that a further future supply constraint is to be incorporated – welcome news for holders of stock.”

BI, which operates out of offices in London, Hong Kong, Singapore and Los Angeles, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, having been named ‘Bordeaux Specialist of the Year’ by the IWC in 2015.