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Hong Kong auctions overtake London

Hong Kong has overtaken London as the second-biggest wine-auction market after New York.

[CORRECTION] In earlier version of this article we suggested that Farr Vintners had ‘recently’ opened their Hong Kong branch, when in fact they have been there since 1996

The region’s wine auctions totalled HK$543m (US$70m) – about 25% of wine sales in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s sales in 2009 surpassed the US$34m taken in London but did not knock New York out of first place, where some US$135m was taken in wine auctions, as estimated by Gil Lempert Schwarz, executive consultant to auction house Acker Merrall & Condit.

Lifting all wine taxes in February 2008 spurred demand for wine, creating an auction market that was ‘zero’ before the tax exclusion, Boris de Vroomen, chairman of the Hong Kong Wine & Spirits Industry Coalition told decanter.com.

‘In 2007, no wine auctions had been held in Hong Kong and the only auction houses present were Christie’s and Sotheby’s, dealing in fine art,’ he said.

‘But over the past year and a half, we have seen many wine auctions held by both these houses, plus new companies entering the market including Zachys, Acker Merrall & Condit, and Bonhams.’

de Vroomen, who is also Moet Hennessy Diageo’s managing director in Hong Kong, added, ‘Wine auctions now account for about 25% of wine sales in Hong Kong.’

The tax elimination has also encouraged fine wine merchants to do business in Hong Kong. Berry Brothers has been established some ten years, Farr Vintners set up their first office in 1996, while Bordeaux Index and Vinfolio have set up more recently.

The Hong Kong Wine & Spirits Industry Coalition successfully lobbied the government to lift all wine taxes, said de Vroomen, because many auction buyers in New York and London are Chinese.

‘Removing the tax barrier has brought the wine market closer to the local economy,’ he said.

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Farr Vintners, whose Hong Kong office was established in 1996, has long been established as one of the region’s leading suppliers of fine wine under the dynamic leadership of Jo Purcell, managing director of Farr Vintners Asia. We have had, and will continue to have, a long-term role in the Hong Kong wine trade with many thousands of active customers and a glowing reputation. Hong Kong customers are attracted to Farr Vintners by our large and comprehensive stocks of the world’s greatest wines, our knowledgeable staff, competitive pricing, state-of-the-art website and our quick and efficient distribution service.

In 2009 our Hong Kong sales totalled £46.75 m (US$75.74 million) which surpasses those of all the auction companies combined. If your figures are correct this means that we sell something close to 30% of all the wine in Hong Kong. Stephen Browett, owner, Farr Vintners

Written by Panos Kakaviatos

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