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Published:  23 July, 2008

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) has launched an appeal to raise funds to upgrade the refurbishment of its new headquarters close to London Bridge in south London. Central to the buy an inscribed brick' appeal is the creation of a wine and spirit trade library', to which Harpers has agreed to donate its archive of bound copies chronicling 126 years of the UK drinks trade. The building, at 39-45 Bermondsey Street, will also be the home of The Wine & Spirit Association, the Wine Standards Board, the Wine & Spirit Trades' Benevolent Society and the Institute of Masters of Wine - all of whom are currently in Five Kings House on the north side of Southwark Bridge, which is owned by The Vintners' Company (see Harpers, 30 July). The Vintners has been pressured by the Charity Commissioners to capitalise on its ownership of Five Kings House, which is a prime City of London site. The building will now be let for commercial rents. While the WSET income has been rising steadily since the early 1990s, it has only moved into profit over the past two years or so, having dipped into deficit around 2000/2001. WSET chief executive Ian Harris, in a letter to potential benefactors, said: The strong financial performance of WSET in recent years has meant that we are able to finance most of the upfront costs from our own financial reserves, but in order to bring the fabric of the building up to the standard we require - both for our staff and our students - we are looking to raise an additional 500,000.' Individuals can buy an inscribed brick for 500, while companies can have a corporate brick for 5,000. These will be displayed in the reception area of the new building. Harris is also looking for a sponsor for the new library and for the three new lecture rooms. He says that: Without the donations and sponsorship, we will not be able to complete the refurbishment to the level we would like. We want this new building to become the "centre of excellence" for training and development in the global wine and spirit industry.'