No Champagne headache for English sparklers

No Champagne headache for English sparklers

English Wines Group has said that consumer demand for its sparkling wines outstripped supplies in 2009.

While cash-strapped UK consumers cut Champagne buys in the recession, English Wines Group has been forced to ringfence bottles intended for key retail customers for fear of a supply shortage.

The company today reported net sales up 6% for the 12 months to the end of December, to GBP2.48m (US$3.8m) versus GBP2.34m in 2008.

"Demand for our wines continues to exceed our ability to supply, despite the harsh economic climate and drastic discounting by many wine producers, especially Champagne," said English Wines Group, which owns the Chapel Down winery and has vineyards across southern England.

Average selling prices on the company's wines rose by 8% during the year.

This again contrasts with Champagne, which saw almost half of the price growth of the last decade in the UK eroded during a few tough months in 2009, according to official Champagne industry figures.

English Wines Group said that operating profits rose by 13% for the year, to GBP150,927.

But, the company reported net losses of GBP9,247, compared to profits of GBP32,078 in 2008, primarily due to charges.

Despite swinging to losses, the group said it has received "strong support" from multiple retailers and that overheads and debt are under control.

It anticipates increasing supplies of sparkling wine in the medium-term.

"The 2009 harvest was encouraging and will enable us to substantially increase volumes of sparkling wine sales from 2012," said the firm.