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Fine wine dip hits Berry Bros results

Wine and spirits merchant Berry Bros & Rudd recorded a net loss in the year to 31 March, impacted by a dip in fine wine sales and unfavourable comparisons with last year.

Berry Bros has been hit by falling turnover from sales of fine Bordeaux

The London-based company posted a net loss of £4,000, compared to a net profit of £22.75m the previous year, but pointed out that the 2011 figure had been inflated by the sale of various assets, including Cutty Sark Scotch whisky.

However, operating profit – viewed as a more meaningful assessment of underlying performance – was also down, falling 58% to £2.05m, and turnover decreased 23% to £165.4m, thanks to lower sales of fine wine.

In a review accompanying the company’s results, chairman Simon Berry blamed the fall in fine wine turnover on declining prices and slower trading in Bordeaux wines.

‘However, we have successfully filled this gap by increasing sales in other areas of fine wine production – Burgundy, the Rhone, Italy especially,’ he said.

Berry admitted that progress with the company’s business in Asia had been ‘slower than we might have hoped’.

But he added: ‘All in all, we have sold more cases of wine to more customers than ever before, which given the continuing recession and the top end niche that we deliberately occupy, is a remarkable achievement.’

Berry Bros was also hit by losses suffered by its spirits business, but Berry said this was expected as investments continued to grow brands such as No 3 Gin and Pink Pigeon flavoured rum.

Company managing director Hugh Sturges said the underlying profit of the business was ‘in line with the owners’ expectations’.

‘The company’s wine businesses performed well and its new spirits brands are ahead of plan,’ he added.

Written by Richard Woodard

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