Belfast Telegraph

Fine wine investment fund sees near 50% jump in sales since Brexit vote

A fine wine investment fund has raised a glass to the Brexit-hit pound after sterling's slump ushered in a near 50% jump in sales.

Cult Wines - founded by The Apprentice runner-up Tom Gearing - is expecting annual sales to climb by a record 47% to £30 million for 2016/17 thanks to surging demand from UK and Asian buyers.

The heady rise comes after investors dived into safe haven assets, such as fine wines, following the pound's collapse against the US dollar after the EU referendum vote.

Mr Gearing, managing director of Cult Wines, said: "Fine wine investment can act as a defensive holding as it has the capacity to remain stable under difficult economic conditions.

"It has the advantage of not necessarily following the general trend of lagging behind the rest of the market during economic expansion because demand is consistently strong."

The company, which manages portfolios on behalf of 2,000 clients in 66 countries, has benefited from sterling's fall because the Hong Kong currency is dollar linked.

Cult Wines has notched up a compound annual growth rate of 235% in Asia over the past four years, but the lion's share of its investors - 52% - come from the UK.

It has pencilled in Hong Kong sales and total sales to hit £20 million and £50 million respectively by 2020.

The firm has also scooped a Queen's Award for Enterprise in recognition of its Far East growth.

Mr Gearing saw his plan for a wine investment fund rejected by Lord Sugar on the BBC hit show The Apprentice in 2012 because it was deemed too risky.

However, the industry benchmark for fine wine - the Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 Index - has risen by around 17% since the Brexit vote and the sector is now worth 4 billion US dollars a year (£3 billion).

Cult Wines, which employs 25 staff, has its headquarters in London and an office in Hong Kong.