Port firm builds stocks ahead of expected Brexit issues

A leading port manufacturer is building up stocks in the UK ahead of anticipated disruption after the Brexit transition period ends in January.

Adrian Bridge, chief executive of the Fladgate Partnership – which owns Croft, Taylor’s, Fonseca and Krohn – said he was expecting some impact in a market which accounts for 30% of is port sales.

“The UK still remains a very important market for us, simply because it's where we started 328 years ago,” said Bridge.  

“The evolution of Brexit is clearly going to take place on January 1, 2021, and it would increasingly appear that it’s going to be one that’s not negotiated as a smooth transition and could lead to some market disruption.

“Ahead of that we have been building stocks in that market and continue to try to do so. We do anticipate some degree of disruption as a result of that political change.”

Bridge said that lockdown had seen global port sales increase for the company despite a depressed domestic market as a result of the pandemic’s impact on incoming tourism to Portugal.

“It is encouraging to see that port sales are up,” he said. “The increase over the summer was particularly visible in the purchase of dry white port – noticeably Taylor’s Chip Dry white port – and Croft Pink.

“It did appear that we had large numbers of consumers enjoying port as a mix with cocktails or tonic water over the summer.

“A particular market that stood out for Pink was the UK where we saw a substantial increase in our sales.

“Broadly speaking most markets that we operate in have seen port sales increase. The key point is that trade channels have changed.

“If we use the US as an example, where probably a third of port sales were going through restaurants and hotels, that part of the business has all but disappeared, yet the same volume that was being sold through those outlets is now being sold through retail stores.

“It’s created a slight change in the mix because there are things people more often consume in a restaurant that they aren’t able to buy in their local store, so we’ve seen lower sales of, for example, Taylor Fladgate 20 Year Old, and an increase in the more standard Ruby and Tawny ports in the US.”