UK fine-wine group Coterie Holdings is eyeing international expansion for its buying, storage and supply services.

CEO Michael Saunders said he sees most potential for growth in Asia and the Surrey-headquartered company could begin doing business there “in the relatively near future”.

Coterie is a holding company for four business across the wine supply chain: bonded storage facility Coterie Vaults, wine lending business Jera, wine merchant Lay and Wheeler and importer-distributor Hallgarten and Novum Wines.

It is owned by Cayman-registered, privately owned business Coterie Limited.

Speaking to Just Drinks at Hallgarten and Novum Wines’ annual tasting yesterday (20 February) – Coterie acquired Hallgarten in December – Saunders said: “We’re going to start in this country and then over time we will raise our eyes and look elsewhere.

“With Coterie Vaults, for instance, we’re already looking at opening up vaults in other parts of the world because everybody in fine wine knows that the operations and service provision is imperfect elsewhere.

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“We have the wherewithal and desire to sort that problem out. When we open a vault, on the back of that we could start other operations, be they private-client businesses, hospitality supply businesses, we’ll see.

“Value is as important as the strategy – we want to be trusted people, honest people, do what we say, deliver great service, look after our people well, look after our suppliers well, so really quite old fashioned stuff, but stuff that really matters – and works.”

Saunders, who was appointed CEO in September and took up the role in January, said sites of interest in Asia are Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei and Tokyo.

“There are horror stories in Asia of wine containers being left on the side. So we’re going to solve that problem. Or not solve it – other people do it – but we’re going to be trusted and we’re going to be known for doing it,” Saunders said.

“It’s not going to be just for our private customers. We’re going to set up services for other fine-wine businesses and they are all telling us: ‘Yes, please do it.’”

Coterie Vaults owns a fine-wine warehouse in Ipswich, Suffolk, with the capacity to hold 10 million bottles (784 nine-litre cases) of wine.

Saunders described the group as “a bit of a virtuous circle” – buyers can purchase fine wine through Lay and Wheeler, store it at Coterie Vaults and find assistance managing finance and liquidity with another of Coterie’s recent acquisitions, Jera.

Since the deal for Jera, which closed last month, Saunders said Coterie has received interest from hospitality businesses who want to move their wine collection, as well as private customers. “We’re not trying to be a bank,” he said. “We’re trying to say: ‘We are helping people with liquidity while they can hold on to their wine collections.’”

Saunders joined Coterie after a 33-year career at London-based importer-distributor Bibendum Wine, now part of C&C Group.