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BBR return to form with highest operating profits since 2010

Published:  26 November, 2020

Berry Bros. & Rudd (BBR) has posted strong results, showing the family-owned business in growth for FY20 and “solid” half-year results for FY21.

In a statement released on 26 November, the St James-based merchant announced FY20 sales of £221.4.m (against £223.2m for FY19), with FY20 gross profit rising 7.3% year on year to £68.9m.

FY20 group operating profit hit £5m, up 186% from £1.8m in the previous year.

The company said that the improvement in gross profit was the main contributory factor in the growth in the company’s operating profit, with margins up across both its UK operations and San Francisco-based Hotaling & Coe arm in the US.

An in-depth organisational restructuring, which saw a much scaled back UK wholesale operation in BBR’s Fields, Morris & Verdin division, along with a focus on cost control, were cited as the main factors behind the improved performance.

Agency business Fields, Morris & Verdin has been scaled back, now representing 100 producers in what BBR described as “a more concentrated distribution network”.

“Despite the unexpected challenge of the Covid pandemic in the last few months of the financial year, FY20 has been an excellent year for Berry Bros. & Rudd,” said BBR chair Lizzy Rudd.

“Sales benefitted from the completion of a long-standing IT project which resulted in efficiencies for our website and improvements to the back-office systems. Strong campaign performances for both our Burgundy and Bordeaux En Primeur offers contributed to a successful year, and our spirits business, including the relaunch of our award-winning No.3 London Dry Gin, was a significant factor in the positive set of results.”

BBR added that sales to date for FY21 are “ahead of budget”, with a fast pivot to non-contact sales and growth in online being central to meeting the challenges presented by the pandemic.

The 300-year old business confirmed a refinancing agreement with PNC earlier this year, allowing the business to implement growth plans, including the “enhancement” of the company’s Berry Bros. Exchange wine platform, plus the construction of a new 14 million bottle warehouse facility.

CEO Emma Fox, who took up the role in August this year, gave an upbeat assessment of BBRs future.

“Now is an incredibly exciting chapter of Berry Bros. & Rudd’s extraordinary story. There have been some difficult decisions to make in the past half-year – however we are fully positioned to deliver on our ambition of becoming the best and most trusted fine wine and spirit merchant in the world,” said Fox.