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Chapel Down reveals new venture as it posts healthy half-year sales

Published:  27 September, 2018

Chapel Down is set to open a new experiential bar, restaurant and ginnery at King’s Cross, London.

The producer said it had exchanged on an agreement to lease a 5,000 sq ft site by the Regent’s Canal where it will be opening the “Chapel Down Gin Works”. The completion of the lease is subject to receipt of the appropriate planning and licensing approvals.

The news was announced as Chapel Down posted a 15% jump in year-on sales to £5.71 million for the six months to 30 June 2018 compared to £4.98 million in the same period in 2017.

The growth was driven by a 19% leap in Chapel Down Wines and Spirits to £3.98 million, while its Curious Drinks Beer and Cider sales were up 6% to £1.73 million.

It also revealed that gross profit in wines and spirits was up 24% to £1.57 million. However, its beer and cider gross profit was down 2% at £545,000 due to changes in supply and the relaunch of bottles, said Chapel Down.

The company had been “very encouraged” by the results of its Chapel Down gin and vodka launch, said chief executive Frazer Thompson.

“We have seen success not only in top end London bars and restaurants such as All Bar One, Mr. Foggs and Mark Hix but also in Majestic and more recently, Tesco,” he said.

“Although sales reached £300,000 in the first half, we are seeing further opportunities for growth in the second half and we will be building on the success of Chapel Down’s spirits through the creation of an exciting experiential bar, restaurant and Gin Works at Kings Cross, London just 38 minutes by train from our new brewery in Ashford.”

Its new brewery for its Curious beers and cider is scheduled for completion in March 2019 in the centre of Ashford. He said this would give the company greater control over growth, improved margins and a “highly visible” point of difference.

Thompson said it was also encouraging that interest in English wines – and Chapel Down in particular – had “never been higher”.

“The wine world has seen us grow the sparkling wine market and innovate and surprise with our still wines,” he said.

This had enabled the producer to continue to improve its pricing and margins, with sales up 19% and gross profit up 24%, he added.

He said the company has taken its first “significant steps” to grow its international business through a partnership in its most important export market - the USA.

He also said he was encouraged by the prospect of this years “outstanding harvest” with record yields and excellent quality fruit.

“Whilst all the fruit is not yet harvested, we can expect 40-60% more fruit than we have ever received at quality levels to match the best vintages ever in England,” he added.

Earlier this month Chapel Down exchanged on an agreement to lease 388 acres of viticultural land – a move that will make it the biggest vineyard in England.

The site at Boarley and Abbey Farm in Boxley, which adjoins Chapel Down’s existing vineyards on the North Downs, will be vined between 2019 and 2021 resulting in a total area under long-term leases of 788 acres, with planting poised to take place over the coming years.

Once the site is planted, the total vined area from which Chapel Down will source its grapes – including owned land, land under long-term leases and contract supply – will exceed 950 acres, said the winery.