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InVivo wine shores-up Armit with £4m investment

Published:  04 October, 2019

France’s InVivo Wine has pumped £4m into Armit Wines to shore-up the London wine merchant’s finances.

The cash injection was part of an ambitious plan to transform Armit into the UK’s leading fine wine company, said Philippe Leveau, InVivo wine’s managing director for Europe.

“We want to be number one in the UK with the best portfolio of fine wines,” he said, adding Armit had launched a new qualitative study on fine wine consumers in order to better understand the market.

“The adoption of new digital tools, will make us more agile. We are listening more to the market. We want 98% of deliveries to be made on time,” he said.

This week Armit told Harpers that it had appointed Caroline Brangé as London sales manager.

Brangé, a sommelier and former banker, was recruited from Flint Wines, where she worked as a trade sales account manager.

Armit is expected shortly to announce the appointment of a new managing director to replace Kirsten Kilby who left the company earlier this year.

The move follows several new company appointments made in January.

Leveau described Armit’s new team as the backbone behind the company’s new efforts to further boost wine sales in the horeca trade and online.

Known mainly as a specialist in Italian wines, the company’s autumn tasting earlier this week, showcased the diversity of its non-Italian wine portfolio.

Wines included the un-oaked biodynamic Grenache, Les Combes 2017 by Chateau Maris in the Languedoc; Momento Grenache Gris from the Western Cape; La Rioja Alta’s Viña Ardanza 2010; Stonecroft’s Syrah 2018 wines from Hawkes Bay in New Zealand and the new Terroir Sense Fronteres wine range made in Catalonia’s Monstant region.

Speaking at the tasting, a bullish Leveau said InVivo wine’s investment showed it remained undeterred by market uncertainty over Brexit.

“We have had a 10 to 12% increase in sales over the past six months, with sales of between £1 and £1.2m per month,” Leveau said.

The growth points to a turnaround in Armit’s financial health.

In the 2018 financial year, it accumulated total losses of £2.38m; liabilities exceeded its assets by around £1.63m, according to accounts reports filed at Companies House in June 2018.

The report said the survival of Armit wines would depend on the willingness of its owners to continue funding the company through finance facilities including loans.

InVivo wine became the 100% owner of Armit in July this year. In France, it runs negociant businesses and nine wine co-operatives. It also imports wine from Chile and Australia.

InVivo, which is also developing its own wine brands, currently sells still wine to Waitrose. It expects to generate a turnover of €500m in 2020.

This week it announced a move in the sparkling wine market after reaching an agreement with Pernod Ricard to acquire its Café de Paris brand.