Shellproof has agreed a deal to buy fellow English sparkling wine producer Gusborne for GBP7m (US$10.9m) to capitalise on the sub-category's success.

Under the agreement, announced today (3 September), Shellproof, whose majority shareholder is Conservative Party peer Lord Ashcroft, will change its name to Gusbourne PLC and float on the London Stock Exchange's AIM market. The placing is expected to raise around GBP2.85m.

The funds will be used to plant an extra 100 acres of vines at Gusbourne's Kent estate over the next two years, with a new winery and visitor centre to follow “in due course”, Gusbourne said.

Andrew Weeber, who founded Gusbourne around ten years ago, will be the new group's non-executive chairman. "Our recent successes demonstrate the huge potential of the Gusbourne brand and I am very excited to be embarking on a new phase of business development and expansion,” said Weeber.

He added: “I believe the prospects for the Gusbourne Estate product range in the context of the growing market for English sparkling and still wines are excellent.”

Ben Walgate, who will be CEO of the new group, said: “We will retain and continue the best practices that have been instilled from the very beginning at Gusbourne Estate.”

The deal is expected to complete by the end of this month. 

Earlier this year, Chapel Down's CEO Frazer Thompson forecast that the English wine industry would see some consolidation.