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BI reports soaring sales

Published:  06 August, 2018

Fine wine and rare spirits merchant BI has reported a 6.1% hike in turnover to £51 million for the first half of 2018.

The “exceptional” results, which marked the first time sales have surpassed £50 million since 2011, was evidence of continued growth of trade in physical vintages throughout the world, said the business.

In terms of investment, Haut Brion 1989 and Margaux 1990 - both mature Bordeaux wines and considered their best ever vintages, delivered investment growth of 29% and 22% respectively, according to the results, which were released this morning.

Following on from this, Jaboulet’s 2015 Hermitage La Chapelle received a new 100-point rating, putting it into the same category as the 1990, 1978 and 1961. In just six months this had delivered an 18% rate of return, the report revealed.  

Demand from Asian buyers remained strong throughout the six months accounting for 40% of total sales, while the UK and Europe accounted for 50% with the US with and the rest of the world making up the remaining 10%.

Sales of wines from the US were up an impressive 96% - driven by California, while rare spirit sales leaped 251% on the back of a ‘significant” increase in rare whisky sales during the period.

In terms of regions, sales of Burgundy wine rose 11% while Champagne sales were up 18%.

The strong first half has been achieved despite weak buying during the recent 2017 Bordeaux En Primeur campaign, said managing director Gary Boom, adding high prices demanded by many Chateaux for wines, which  in most cases were lesser-rated than their 2016 and 2015 counterparts, having led to a cooling of demand.

As a result, En Primeur campaign sales were down more than 50% on last year to £6 million (2017: £14 million) which led to overall lower Bordeaux wine sales during the half.

Nonetheless, the overall strong sales period demonstrated that investors and consumers were continuing to search out both "exceptional quality and demonstrable value" in fine wine, said Boom.

“In previous years a lacklustre En Primeur campaign has led to a general slowdown in interest for wine buyers, but 2018 has certainly bucked this trend. Bordeaux clearly remains the go-to region but the market is being driven by mature wines rather than new releases,” he said.

The continued growth of interest in Champagne was “extremely satisfying”, said Boom.

“We’ve long believed that Champagne is not only a brilliant wine to drink but actually fantastic value compared to other wine regions of comparable quality. Asia was initially reluctant to engage with this market, preferring red wine, but the revolution is certainly coming. This only adds value to the investment proposition of Champagne as the speed of post-release consumption already far outstrips the slow maturation of the best wines,” he said.

Sales via BI’s LiveTrade platform, claimed to be the only two-way market making platform for rare wines and champagne, increased 12% to £20 million, accounting for 39% of total sales.