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Gusbourne plans expansion and export drive after £7m takeover

The new majority owner of Gusbourne Estate plans to double the English winery's size within two years.

English sparkling wine producer Gusbourne Estate has its sights set on export markets after a £7m takeover that will see the group listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Shellproof plc, which is controlled by former Conservative Party deputy chairman and life peer Lord Ashcroft, has acquired a majority stake in Gusbourne and will merge the entities to form Gusbourne plc.

Following a planned issue of £2.9m in shares, which will go to existing shareholders, the new business is set to list on London’s AIM stock market for small businesses from the end of September – a first for an English winery, and only the second winery in total to list on the exchange.

Proceeds will be ploughed into the business to fund ambitious expansion, doubling the producer’s holdings from its current 100 acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines in Kent and West Sussex, over the next two years.

Production will rise to 500,000 bottles per year, with storage for 2m bottles. Gusbourne also intends to build a winery and visitors’ centre.

‘We want to develop the export markets, and one of the problems of being small is there is not enough volume for this,’ said Andrew Weeber, Gusbourne founder and who will be will be non-executive chairman of the new company.

‘The offering will give us the resources to keep large stocks of our own wine in tank and bottle, to stick to our commitment of protracted lees and cork ageing,’ he told decanter.com.

The management team will include chief executive Ben Walgate, winemaker Charlie Holland and vineyard manager Jon Pollard.

Gusbourne produces three sparkling and two still wines that retail from about £17.99-£31.99. Its first still wine, Guinevere 2011, won a regional trophy at the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards.

Written by Maggie Rosen

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