Liberty Wines spends £4.5m on bespoke premises
Liberty Wines is spending £4.5 million on a bespoke office and warehouse in Clapham, following its best-ever year last year.
David Gleave MW, Liberty’s founder, said the new build was a “no-brainer” for the firm. The new offices will be ready at the end of 2012 and Gleave said the investment “demonstrates how optimistic we are. We’ve got to pay the loan back over time but we’re confident the business will grow”.
“Liberty is still on a growth curve,” said Gleave, “last year was the best ever in terms of revenue and profit.” The business turned over £38 million, and is expecting net profit to be just over 5%.
It employs 85 people across its Irish and UK business. The business is split 55% on-trade, 30% to independent retailers.
While Gleave is positive about the year ahead, he believes 2012-13 “could be the toughest one for the economy since 2008.”
As for the trend of other suppliers diversifying from their usual supply routes and targeting indepents, he said: “Liberty has been doing that since day one. I’m not surprised more suppliers are targeting it.” He added that trading with multiples exclusively had its limitations.
In recent years Liberty has broadened its porfolio, “five years ago Italian wines were 50% of what we did, while Australia and New Zealand were second and third. But today France is in second place. We’re continuing to strengthen our French portfolio – we’ve just added Charles Heidsieck Champagne”.
Gleave said he’d like to do more work in France and Spain, and that sparkling wine was performing well. “It used to be hard to sell anything sparkling that wasn’t Champagne, but English sparkling wine has opened the door for others.”
Liberty owns three wineries “with a lot of potential”, says Gleave, these include Alpha Zeta Wines in Italy’s Verona area and Willunga 100 in McLaren Vale. But Gleave said it was focusing on the UK business as these projects “need a lot of attention”.