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London’s Vinopolis wine tourism venue to close

The owner of Vinopolis plans to close the wine attraction at the end of this year, but said the move was not related to financial performance.

Vinopolis will close on 31 December 2015 and will be replaced by a ‘luxury shopping complex’, owner Wineworld London said. It has sold the site to an unnamed developer.

Since its birth in 1999, Vinopolis has offered tourists virtual tours of the world’s major wine regions, along with tasting tutorials and a guide to different wine styles. It also hosts events, serving as a tastings venue for winners of the Decanter World Wine Awards, and has a restaurant and several wine bars

It is believed that Vinopolis struggled to turn a profit for much of its first decade. But, a spokesperson for Wineworld told Decanter.com that financial difficulties were not the reason for the attraction closing.

‘The decision to close comes after a year of extremely strong trading,’ she said. ‘It is simply the right offer at the right time and in the best interests of the shareholders.’

Vinopolis sales in the year to the end of July fell by almost 8% on the previous 12 months, to £7.3m, but net profits jumped by nearly 70% to reach £844.7m.

‘We have come to the end of what could reasonably be achieved with the wine experience,’ said Vinopolis’ managing director, Samanthan Anderson.

Benjamin Chilcott, who was among the co-founders of Vinopolis and has held shares in the attraction since its inception, said, ‘I think the wine industry as a whole could have made better use of Vinopolis and got behind it more, but that didn’t ever quite happen.

‘I’ve loved my 18-year involvement with the business and it will be a sad day when the doors finally close,’ added Chilcott, now a managing partner at brand consultancy Concise. 

Written by Chris Mercer

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