Farr Vintners - 2011 End of Year Report

Saturday, 31st December 2011 by Stephen Browett

As is traditional at this time of year, we have taken a moment to reflect on how Farr Vintners has performed during the last 12 months. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers and suppliers (and many of you are both!) who have supported us with great loyalty in 2011. We will strive to continue to repay that loyalty in 2012 with competitive prices on our huge stocks of wine, knowledgeable and honest sales and purchasing advice and an efficient accounts, warehousing and delivery service.

Despite the current economic gloom, 2011 has been a good year for us and turnover is up on 2010. Sales of physically available wines were up 30% on the previous year to £131 million (excluding duty and VAT) with a further £35 million worth of 2010 Bordeaux sales carried forward. In addition, we will be carrying forward some £70 million of sales of 2009 Bordeaux into next year's accounts. By value and volume Bordeaux remains our undoubted speciality at nearly 83% of turnover but Burgundy sales (despite the very limited production of great wines) have increased in value by 60%. For those of you who like statistics, here are some details of our sales in 2011 (with the previous year’s sales in brackets).

Sales by Volume

  1. Bordeaux 74.4% (79.9%)
  2. Burgundy 7.9% (6.3%)
  3. Champagne 4.1% (3.6%)
  4. Rhone 3.9% (3.1%)
  5. Southern France 2% (1%)
  6. New Zealand 1.6% (1.9%)
  7. Italy 1.2% (1.1%)
  8. Australia 1.2% (0.7%)
  9. Germany 0.7% (0.6%)
  10. Spain 0.6% (0.5%)

Sales by Value

  1. Bordeaux 82.9% (87.2%)
  2. Burgundy 9.4% (5.9%)
  3. Champagne 2.4% (2.3%)
  4. Rhone 1.7% (1.5%)
  5. Italy 0.9% (0.8%)
  6. Australia 0.5% (0.4%)
  7. Spain 0.4% (0.4%)
  8. Germany 0.3% (0.3%)
  9. New Zealand 0.2% (0.2%)
  10. Southern France 0.2% (0.1%)

Vintage Port dropped out of the Top Tens for the first time in the 33 year history of Farr Vintners.

Our leading role in the Bordeaux wine trade was again recognised in 2011 by our winning the "En Primeur Wine Merchant of the Year" at the International Wine Challenge Awards (for the fifth time in the last six years). In 2011 our top ten best-selling wines by value were all from Bordeaux, but by volume a wine that we discovered in the Languedoc crept in from nowhere to 4th place! Dom Perignon (thanks to the release of brilliant 2002 vintage) came in at #7. Well done to Grand Puy Lacoste (one of our favourite wines of Bordeaux) that has entered the top 10 by volume at #3 thanks to the great quality and especially the value for money that it provides compared to many of its neighbours. (2010 positions in brackets):

Sales by Volume

  1. Lynch Bages (Lynch Bages)
  2. Pontet Canet (Pontet Canet)
  3. Grand Puy Lacoste (Lafite)
  4. Puech Haut Cuvée Prestige (Cos d'Estournel)
  5. Gloria (Cantemerle)
  6. Armailhac (Mouton Rothschild)
  7. Dom Perignon (Latour)
  8. Cos d’Estournel (Montrose)
  9. Lafite (Duhart Milon)
  10. Pichon Baron (Leoville Barton)

Sales by Value

  1. Lafite (Lafite)
  2. Latour (Latour)
  3. Mouton Rothschild (Mouton Rothschild)
  4. Lynch Bages (Margaux)
  5. Haut Brion (Haut Brion)
  6. Margaux (Cos d'Estournel)
  7. Pontet Canet (Petrus)
  8. Carruades Lafite (Pontet Canet)
  9. Cos d’Estournel (Lynch Bages)
  10. Yquem (Carruades Lafite)

Farr Vintners was the first UK merchant to establish an office in Hong Kong (over 15 years ago) and Jo Purcell and her multi-lingual team continue to contribute nearly half of all our wine sales. The Far East remains an enormous market for Farr Vintners but dropped slightly by value in the second half of the year. Final sales figures to the UK and the Far East were almost identical. The US remained weak, slipping to under 3%, but sales to the rest of the world picked up a little. The 2011 figures were remarkably similar to 2010:

Sales by Volume

  1. UK 49.7% (48.15%)
  2. Far East 36.1% (36.1%)
  3. France 5.6% (6.5%)
  4. Rest of the World 5.2% (5.9%)
  5. USA 3.4% (3.36%)

Sales by Value

  1. Far East 44.5% (49.3%)
  2. UK 44.1% (40.6%)
  3. Rest of the World 5.3% (4.1%)
  4. France 3.2% (3.0%)
  5. USA 2.9% (3%)

Finally, a personal thank you from me to everyone in the hard-working team at Farr Vintners. It often comes as a surprise to customers and suppliers that such an efficient and well-respected business operates with less than 30 employees worldwide! The answer sums up Farr Vintners: quality not quantity! I would like to especially thank Jonathan Stephens who has recently retired after 22 years at Farr Vintners. Jonathan and I have worked together since 1980 when we both started at La Reserve wine shop in Knightsbridge and he remains a consultant to the company. Congratulations to Mark Ross, who is our new Sales Director and to our latest recruit, Thomas Parker, who joins our purchasing department.

It's been another successful year for Farr Vintners and we look forward to buying and selling many more great wines in 2012. With best wishes for a very Happy New Year!

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