Chairman's Annual Report
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 by Stephen Browett
Sales soar at Farr Vintners in 2017
2017 was an excellent year for sales at Farr Vintners as the company consolidated its position as the UK’s leading fine wine trader. Turnover was up by 25.5% on the previous year to £96 million, which consisted of £77 million of physical sales and £19 million of en primeur sales. It also marked the company's first full year in our new purpose-built headquarters on the banks of the River Thames in Battersea.
This is the 4th year running that sales have increased. We put this down to the continued strength and position of the company in the global fine wine market, a strong 2016 Bordeaux en primeur campaign (the best since 2010) and increased export sales which were helped by the weakness of the GBP against the Dollar and the Euro.
Sales were made to customers in over 70 different countries which can be broken down by value as follows:
90% of all the wine that we sold was French. Sales by region of production were:
In 2017 there was a significant decrease in our purchases in euros from France, which we can attribute to the post-Brexit vote weakness of the GBP. The biggest change in our business during 2017 was the large increase in purchases of wine back from our own customers’ reserves. Farr Vintners now holds some £400 million worth of stock in bond for our customers which is made up of tens of thousands of cases of wine that have been purchased from us over the last 30 years. In 2017 Farr Vintners bought back a massive £20 million worth of wine (nearly 25% of all purchases) from its own customers. Our hugely efficient brokerage service is operated by our team of vastly experienced buyers (with over 100 years of wine trade experience between them). The company is proud to offer customers genuinely expert advice on what to sell, when, and at what price, rather than the semi-automated brokerage systems of some of our competitors. Many of the customers who have sold wine through us have taken the opportunity to re-invest in more recent vintages or to purchase wines from other regions or at different price levels.
Despite pressure from smaller operators on margins, we are pleased to report that the company’s modest profit margin remained unchanged from 2016 to 2017 and allowed us to continue to offer a high level of service to our customers. Farr Vintners donated over £400,000 to charity in 2017 which included a significant donation to “Cure Leukaemia” through our sponsorship of the “Three Tours Challenge” . We were also delighted that a fine wine dinner at our Battersea offices raised £100,000 in the annual “Room to Read” charity auction. In total over 100 charities were supported by Farr Vintners in 2017.
All in all, 2017 has been an excellent year for Farr Vintners and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow directors, staff, friends in the wine trade and customers far and wide for their continued loyalty and support.