Wine PLUS Beer

29 April 2012 – 9:04 am

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Outside the financial community, it would be fair to say the PLUS Market is not in common parlance. The formerly named Ofex offers a route to finance for typically smaller business. Slotting in squarely under AIM and the FTSE main market.

PLUS does however feature some company gems. Usually SMEs which are not as ubiquitous as FTSE 100 quoted stock; but play their part in contributing to the backbone of the British economy.

The often quoted big name on PLUS, is Arsenal Football Club, but other recognisable names are also present, what was formerly the Milk Marketing Board, now National Milk Records; Good Energy, a supplier of ethical energy to homes and business, winner of many green and business awards; Kent family brewer Shepherd Neame and well known English winemaker, Chapel Down, also based in Kent.

Spending a Friday afternoon out of London at Chapel Down’s estate in Tenterden, Kent, was an eye opener to another side of the UK economy. Being based in Central London it would be easy to think the modern world is all about finance, technology and services. However many other sectors continue to thrive in these straightened economic times.

Chapel Down sales are increasing year-on-year, and are up over 40% YTD.

The English wine sector is now producing over 4 million bottles a year, small in the context of the established wine growing nations, but significant enough to support a number of UK domestic vineyards.

So what next for Chapel Down, there are after all only so many vines in the UK, which is why the winemaker has cleverly moved in to the much higher volume business of beer.

Using winemaker language, Curious, as the three type beer range is humorously named, is made with fermented grapes and marketed in the natty house style; the striking bottle with all black and sharp red-stripe label. The lager, Curious Brew, is now also available on draft and receiving good customer reviews.

Moving with the times, as Chapel Down demonstrates, has continued to make it a success. We would never expect a company with such accolades as, drinks supplier to the Royal Wedding of 2011 and the London Olympics of 2012, to stand still.

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