Ex-Apprentice star toasts success with Cult Wines

By Robert Mann contact

- Last updated on GMT

Raise a toast: Apprentice finalist Tom Gearing says annual UK sales for Cult Wines grew by more than 40%
Raise a toast: Apprentice finalist Tom Gearing says annual UK sales for Cult Wines grew by more than 40%
Sales are fizzing at UK fine wine investment company Cult Wines, which reported a record 54% increase in global revenue to £52m in the year ending 31 August.

The company, founded by 2012 Apprentice finalist Tom Gearing, reported that annual sales in the UK grew by more than 40% to £24.5m.

Tom was a runner-up in series eight in 2012 after being beaten to the £250,000 prize and a job with Lord Alan Sugar by Ricky Martin.

Lord Sugar branded his idea “too risky” to be taken further, meaning he dropped down to second place.


Since his stint on the show, Tom has seen his family business Cult Wines​ grow in leaps and bounds.

He heads the firm with business partner Philip Gearing – who also happens to be his dad.

Based in London, Cult Wines boasts a team of investment experts who offer fine wine advice to investors and customers.

“Back in 2015, our five-year plan was that by 2020 we wanted to be over at a £50m turnover,” Tom explained.

“One of the highlights this year is that we achieved our target ahead of schedule.”

Overseas opportunities 

The company focused on its expansion into Asia this year, which has seen a sharp increase in the number of wine buyers and collectors during the past decade.

Spreading from mainland China to Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines, south-east Asia became Cult Wines' fastest growing region in 2018, overtaking the domestic market for the first time, with revenues increasing 84% to more than £20m.

With Brexit only months away, the company believes there “certainly will be some short-term turbulence” but remains positive that it will become more attractive to overseas investors if the pound devalues further.

“Immediately after the Brexit vote we saw, in particular, quite an uptick of overseas demand,” Tom added.

“Investors and their advisers are becoming increasingly familiar with the role fine wine can play as a stable and defensive asset class that can mitigate downside risk.

“With overseas revenue beating the UK this year for the first time, Cult Wines is well placed to weather any Brexit-related domestic headwinds that may emerge in the coming months.”

As one of the fastest growing companies in the industry, Cult Wines won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise International Trade in 2017 and was listed 39th in the Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 this year.

Related topics: Wine

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