Chapel Down, England's biggest sparkling winemaker, plans to raise millions as it looks to expand and produce another 500,000 bottles a year amid soaring demand for UK-grown fizz.
The producer announced on Friday that it has secured a £15 million loan and launched a fundraise for another up to £6.87 million to fuel expansion, including the opening of new winery facilities. The raise consists of a share placing, and a crowdfunding campaign held on Seedrs.
The Aquis-listed firm, which is backed by City veteran Michael Spencer, saw sales increase by 38% in 2020 despite the pandemic shuttering hospitality - traditionally accounting for around one third of sales - for much of the year.
Sparkling wine sales were up over 50% in the year, despite champagne sales dipping worldwide. Gross profits were up 31% to £5.1 million, and e-commerce now accounts for 18% of sales, up from 4% in 2019.
The company said fundraising cash will be used to scale up operations and complete planting on the North Downs chalk terroir, which is set to produce up to 500,000 additional bottles of English sparkling wine per year.
Chief executive Frazer Thompson, who has run the Kent-based outfit for two decades, said the cash would be used to create "new winery facilities, bringing in more high-quality fruit and investing in our brand and e-commerce and systems capabilities".
Earlier this year Chapel Down put its brewer Curious Drinks, launched in 2019, into administration to be taken up by Johnson's Risk Capital Partners (RCP) through a pre-pack in a move to reduce the group's net debt and "ensure we could focus our energy and resources on our growing wine and spirits business". The sale completed in late April, the company said today.