Long term strategy at Berry Bros & Rudd will pay off despite losses

Hampshire Chronicle: Berry Bros & Rudd managing director Hugh Sturges Berry Bros & Rudd managing director Hugh Sturges

BASINGSTOKE-based wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd has reported a pre-tax loss of £7.3million this week – but its managing director is confident a long-term strategy will pay off.

The world-famous firm, which is based in Hamilton Close, Houndmills, reported the loss to Companies House, for the 12 months to March 31, compared to a profit of £1.4m profit posted the year before.

The loss has come as no surprise to managing director Hugh Sturges, who prefers to concentrate on the operating levels, which showed losses were £2.5m against £3.7m last year, with turnover dipping 16 per cent to £138m. “I’ve been here for 12 years and we’ve not made a loss in that time,” said Mr Sturges, who described the loss as a “planned blip.” He added: “The loss is not a surprise as it’s part of our five-year strategy.”

Mr Sturges said the wine company has done well, as he had expected losses early on during the five-year strategy to focus the business on wines and premium spirits.

Under a £9million 2010 deal, Berry Bros acquired The Glenrothes single malt brand from Edrington while selling the Cutty Sark blended whisky product to Erdington.

Thanks in part to the sale of the Cutty Sark product, the company has invested significantly here in Basingstoke, opening its high-tech Gemini warehouse, in Hamilton Road, to store fine wine in bond for customers who treat wine as an investment.

Employing 119 people at its three sites in Basingstoke, including Gateway House in Wade Road, the company has also been expanding its historic flagship store and headquarters in St James’ Street, London, where the business was established in 1698, to provide more space for corporate hospitality and its wine school.

The company has also recently spent over £3m opening wholly-owned businesses in Singapore and Hong Kong – taking advantage of a growing thirst for fine wine in Asia.

Now in its fourth year, the strategy has also seen the company become a stakeholder in Anchor Brewers and Distillers, in San Francisco. It has also recently acquired Lincolnshire-based wine agency Richards Walford & Co.

Mr Sturges is expecting Berry Bros to be reporting profits in 2015 to 2016. He said: “If we can do that before, then we will.”

Upbeat about business, Mr Sturges said: “This has been a very good year, where we have seen 18 per cent to 20 per cent growth levels.

“We are starting to see some benefits in the making from the strategy. And we will continue to see this in the next couple of years.”

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