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Fri 4th Jun 2021 - Chapel Down to raise £6.876m to capitalise on English wine interest
Chapel Down to raise £6.876m to capitalise on English wine interest: English wine maker Chapel Down is raise up to £6.876m via a Seedrs fund-raising campaign to capitalise on the interest in English wine. Existing shareholders have already committed to buying shares worth £1.426m and the equity crowdfunding is hoped to raise £5.450m. The company stated: “The fundraising will enable further growth, improving wine quality even further, building the brand, the e-commerce business and exports. The proceeds of the Fundraising will be used to: scale up winery operations to process greater quantities of fruit and further improve wine quality whilst also becoming more sustainable and efficient; complete planting on the North Downs chalk terroir, producing up to 500,000 additional bottles of English sparkling wine per annum; meet the changing needs of consumers by extending the e-commerce platform to be capable of international expansion; take Chapel Down wines to the world by developing strong, international relationships to further promote export development; drive further brand awareness and affinity by telling Chapel Down’s exciting story across multiple channels; and develop the winery as a destination, attracting visitors to eat, play and stay at Chapel Down, opening their eyes to the possibilities of English wine.” Chief executive Frazer Thompson said: “After 20 years of building our pioneering brand, the English wine industry is now really starting to grow and develop, which is very exciting. As the market leader, we want to ensure that Chapel Down is best placed to benefit from the increasing consumer interest at home and abroad. Our resources and energy will be focused on changing the way the world thinks about English wines forever by creating new winery facilities, bringing in more high-quality fruit and investing in our brand and e-commerce and systems capabilities. Our broad congregation of investors is a crucial part of our success. However large or small, our investors tell our story and sell our products with passion and enthusiasm and buy our wines to share with friends and family. This crowdfunding is a campaign to recruit many more to join us on our journey.” The company made loss before tax of £7.860m (2019: loss of £4.285m) in the year to 31 December 2020 which included £6.677m of exceptional costs associated with the disposal of Curious Drinks which completed on 23 April 2021. Of the sale, Thompson said: “The decision followed a strategic review by the board, which was undertaken as a consequence of the effects of the covid-19 pandemic on the hospitality industry. As disclosed in our interim results released on 30 September 2020, with 90% of its beer sold to the on-trade, Curious Drinks has been significantly impacted by the closure of pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels and other hospitality venues and events due to the UK government imposed lockdowns. In contrast, Chapel Down’s Wine and Spirit business, with an established strong brand and a more multichannel route to market has thrived, with overall volume growth of 38% in 2020. Increased focus and sales to supermarkets and other off premise retailers, and booming direct sales on-line have more than compensated for the loss of sales through the on-trade channel. This has created a significant opportunity to further grow Chapel Down and create value for shareholders. The board of Chapel Down therefore decided that given the competitive strength of the wine business, it was in the best interests of the Group and its shareholders to focus on building the Chapel Down wine brand and business and to exit the Curious Drinks business.”

Propel Premium subscribers to receive first edition of new sector turnover and profit database, most profitable UK companies revealed: The first edition of a new database for Premium subscribers, The Blue Book, to be released at midday on Friday 11 June, shows that McDonald’s has been the most profitable company in the UK for the past five years by some distance. The company has a total pre-tax profit of £1.7bn in its five most recent years. In its most recent full year, it made four times more pre-tax profit than any other company in the UK. Among impressive company performances are two Richard Caring companies, Caprice and Ivy Collection, which rank in the top ten UK companies for quantum of profit. Operating the simplest business model, an entirely free-of-tie leasehold estate, Wellington Pub Company achieves a top 20 place in terms of quantum of profit and rank number two in the whole of the UK for percentage conversion of turnover to profit. Coffee Republic founder Bobby Hashemi also achieves a top 20 profit conversion place with his Pizza Union business. Propel’s Blue Book also shows outstanding performances from some experiential leisure businesses, such as Junkyard Golf and Swingers. The new database, which will be updated and expanded each month, ranks the top 215 sector operators by turnover and then by profitability. It also has a five-year overview of turnover and profit and shows what percentage of turnover is converted to pre-tax profit – or otherwise. The first edition of the Blue Book shows there are 106 companies in the sector turning over more than £30m, with 76 of them turning over more than £50m and 43 turning over more than £100m. The Blue Book shows companies with franchise and tenanted operations converting turnover to profit very efficiently, with family brewers for example also performing well. The Blue Book also sees strong performances from some of the outstanding UK restaurant brands and operators. Each month Propel we will be expanding the scope of The Blue Book – we want to add any company either turning over more than £5m or making a £1m pre-tax profit. Email to add your company to the Blue Book universe. Charity said: “The Blue Book will start to show the devastating impact of the pandemic on company profitability but in due course will chart the sector’s bounceback. It’s a fascinating document.” Propel Premium subscribers have just received their monthly update to the multi-site database, which has had 108 companies added since the last release at the end of May. They not only received the database as a PDF and an Excel spreadsheet, they were also sent a 14,000-word report on the businesses added during May. The go-to database, which now features 1,822 companies that collectively operate 59,197 sites, provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. A single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Email to sign up.

GSG Hospitality opens sports bar below its Slim’s restaurant in Liverpool: Independent restaurant and bar business GSG Hospitality has opened a sports bar under its American-inspired restaurant Slim’s in Bold Street, Liverpool. Pepper Cat Sports will show Premier League games, the Euros football championship, UFC fights, golf, NFL, NBA, racing, rugby and box office events. It has capacity for 60 people and has 14 LED TVs. Nick Thomas, director at GSG Hospitality, which was previously Graffiti Spirits Group, said: “We want all of our guests to feel like they are home from home in the bar, and we want them to interact and play a major part in the atmosphere, and even the decor. From beer pong to darts tournaments, to donating memorabilia for our walls in return for a drink on us, we want it to be as much yours as it is ours.” Pepper Cat Sports also has a menu to suit sports viewing, which includes chicken wings, salt and pepper ribs, barbecue corn ribs, cheeseburgers, chicken burgers, vegan burgers and hot dogs. The venue is also available for private hire from 21 June.

Team behind Vauxhall Food & Beer Garden to open second London site: The team behind the Vauxhall Food & Beer Garden is to open a second site in London. The Garden at Kentish Town, which will cover more than 12,000 square foot of outdoor space, will launch on Thursday, 24 June. With capacity for 900 people, the Regis Road venue will house two 12-metre long bars as well as eight street food traders. Guests will have their food and drinks delivered through table service via the venue’s own app. The space will have two huge LED screens showing all the summer’s major sporting events as well as a programme of seasonal events including music and entertainment.

Belfast chef Niall McKenna to open new cookery school: Belfast-based James Street South Group, run by chef entrepreneur Niall McKenna, has opened a new cookery school. The restaurateur purchased the grade B-listed Waterman House building in Hill Street in 2018 as part of an investment of more than £1m to redevelop the former James Street South Cookery School, previously housed within the James Street restaurant. McKenna said: “Having served Belfast city centre since 2003 with our James Street restaurant, we’re delighted to expand our presence and offer food enthusiasts the best environment to enjoy an exciting learning experience using the finest local ingredients.” 

Huddersfield-based natural wine shop and bar launches crowdfunding campaign to support move to larger premises: Huddersfield-based natural wine shop and bar Kwas is planning to expand into a new site – and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the project. Kwas is aiming to move from its current premises in Viaduct Street to a larger neighbouring site in July. It comes after its sales increased by 80% from the beginning of the first lockdown, when it launched new delivery options and vegetable box subscriptions. The new site will include a bar space, deli, kitchen and permanent grocery store, with the proceeds from the £15,000 raise on Crowdfunder supporting the refurbishment of the space. Kwas co-founder Duncan Sime said: “We’ve loved our home and have many happy memories over the past two and a bit years but we really feel now is the time to step things up and move to the kind of site we need to really realise our dream for what Kwas can be.”

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