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Cult Wines' 'revolutionary' systems fuel rapid growth

Published:  22 May, 2014

Cult Wines' "revolutionary" wine portfolio management service is helping the company to expand rapidly, with gross profits doubling and revenue on target to grow 48% this year.

Cult director and founder Tom Gearing told said the group had "spent a lot of time and energy improving its systems" and re-investing, which had slowed growth last year, but was now paying dividends.

The company is also looking to broaden its Asian network, and is considering opening an office there. "It could be we need to bolster our presence there from 2015," he said.

Its new wine portfolio management system allows investors, whether clients or not, to log on to view their portfolios, which may have been amassed from two or more places, in one place. It also shows two live data feeds - a Liv-ex price line and an average price feed. "They can see how much their portfolio is worth and what their P&L is - it's updated daily."

It was initially available only to Cult's clients but recently the group decided to open up the software to non-members.

Gearing describes as a resource for people considering investing in wine. It includes information on more than 1,000 different wines, individual vintages, critics' notes, prices and guides for investing.

Gearing said that offering free access to non-clients was a logical next step. "It won't make any difference to us, but it will give us the opportunity to engage with investors and understand more about the market. There's also a chance that they will then want to sell it, and we can help do that."

Gearing said that the firm has done well by not being so heavily involved in the "overheated Bordeaux market". "Fine wine doesn't just come from Bordeaux," Gearing added, saying customers were now much more open to looking outside the traditional markets. He said that top Barolos, Burgundy Grands Crus - outside of the obvious Domaine de la Romanée Conti as well as Rhone and certain smaller Right Bank Bordeaux estates, including Smith Haut Lafitte, where "not a single vintage out of the last 10 hasn't seen growth", as showing strong investment returns. Overall Gearing said Cult generally counsels clients that around 8-10% growth on investment over a five to 10 year period is "easily attainable".

James Miles, Liv-ex managing director, said moves by Cult and others to use Liv-ex data in "new and innovative ways" to "add value for their customers" was "revolutionary" and helped keep both sides better informed and make it easier to trade wine.