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Looking to import wine from France into UK

Discussion in 'Retail' started by morningwind, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. morningwind

    morningwind UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 5 Likes: 1
    Hello Everyone,

    Me and my friend are looking to import French wine into UK.
    We have a solid connection in France who assured us we can get decent quality wine at reasonable prices.

    I need to know what exactly I will have to pay. VAT + tax + shipping costs.. Anything else ?

    Would be great if someone layed out a brief explanation ie if I was to buy a bottle for 2 and sell for 5, how much of the remaining 3 am I going to keep ?

    Thanks in advance.


  2. jamie1183

    jamie1183 UKBF Regular Full Member

    Posts: 1,067 Likes: 92
    Depending on the quantity you are importing you may need a bonded warehouse, Im not too up on this but we have been looking into beer importing for a client and this kept coming up.

    As far as Im aware its a warehouse licensed to import and hold alcohol.
  3. morningwind

    morningwind UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 5 Likes: 1
    Thanks for your response.

    I won't be bringing in more than 150-200 bottles at first. I dont need to use a shipping company yet, I can use my own van.
    My only concern is is starting up: setting a company, registering with known places, the procedures etc.. Can you please shed some light on this for me.
    I promise to send you a fine wine when I'm up and running :)
  4. West

    West UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 17 Likes: 6
    When you buy the wine, you should not be charged French taxes because the seller will declare that they are for export.

    However, on arrival in the UK you will have to pay UK alcohol duty to Customs and
    Excise, which is currently £1.85 per bottle (75cl)

    This means that if you buy for £2.00 per bottle, you will need to sell at £3.85 per bottle (plus VAT = £4.62) in order to break even.

    As to how you go about paying the duty to Customs, you will have to contact them to find out the procedure, but the figures that I have shown give you the costs involved - remember these costs are just for the wine and do not include transport, your time etc.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2011
  5. grazzenger

    grazzenger UKBF Contributor Free Member

    Posts: 138 Likes: 31
    West is spot on with the duty and VAT calculations. you'll need a bonded facility to bring the wine into in order to pay the duty before it can enter the UK.

    however, if you're asking us how to do it, that says you came up with the idea in the pub. and you've got the figures from West, you can see that you'd be making nothing when you add your time and fuel costs.

    sorry to be blunt but i buy from 2 or 3 different wine merchants for investment and enjoyment and they buy directly from the vinyards not from a geezer in a van. investment starts at about £50 ex duty and VAT... per bottle. enjoyment is between £15 and £60 inc duty and VAT and those are usually at least 5 years old and often 10 to 20. that storage all takes time and costs money.

    at the other end of the spectrum, you're up against the supermarkets and you'll never beat them on price. think carefully, if it was easy to make a ton driving booze into britain, we'd all be doing. i definitely would!
  6. morningwind

    morningwind UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 5 Likes: 1
    Thank you for your replies West and grazzenger.

    At the moment, off-licences, small supermarkets etc make 33% profit on any bottle of wine. So if they sell it for a fiver that means they bought it at 3.35 from cash & carry.

    If cash & carry sells it at 3.35, how much did THEY buy it for originally ? Take away 20% VAT and duty (1.85) = 1.20.

    So that means they buy it for less than 1.20 ? And pay 1.85 duty for it ?
  7. West

    West UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 17 Likes: 6
    Yes, 3.35 for a cheap, mass produced wine.

    The difference is that Wholesalers and Supermarkets will be importing 1000-2000 PALLETS at a time (each pallet being several hundred cases of 6) , not 150-200 bottles.

    If you are starting out with 150-200 bottles then you are better off buying from a wholesaler/importer after the wine is in the UK and all the taxes have been sorted out.
    Then add a reasonable margin for yourself and sell it by the bottle.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2011
  8. mhall

    mhall UKBF Contributor Free Member

    Posts: 2,164 Likes: 991

    Some very good advice here. Think long and hard before you go down this route. If your selling on price alone you don't stand a chance as Bargain Booze, Asda et al have got that corner of the market well and truly sussed.

    Personally I think your only hope is the top end of the market (customs just see wine, and do not distinguish the type as a rule) which means that you must have the knowledge and the customers before you begin.
  9. mhall

    mhall UKBF Contributor Free Member

    Posts: 2,164 Likes: 991
    Welcome to UK tax
  10. morningwind

    morningwind UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 5 Likes: 1
    Agreed 100%. The only way I can do that is to buy quality wine (min £100 a bottle) and sell it to my boss who is a millionaire. He told me this morning he would buy from me if I get into wine business.

    Does anyone know any genuine fine wine suppliers in UK ? I don't want to buy from Tesco's fine wine listings and sell it to him, it would be embarrassing :)
  11. GeorgeStrait

    GeorgeStrait Banned

    Posts: 1,369 Likes: 470
    Ya think!!!
  12. grazzenger

    grazzenger UKBF Contributor Free Member

    Posts: 138 Likes: 31
    the fine wine merchants i know are all retailers and as such, you'd not be able to add much margin to them as you have to buy by the 6 or 12 bottle case. bricks and mortar retailers charge a bit of a premium as they'll sell you a single bottle with all the taxes paid for your convenience. have a look at "farr vintners" and "fine+rare". the reason i suggest those 2 is that they're highly reputable - there are a few rogues out there who'll take your money and you'll never see a drop or they'll go bust. this is NOT a cheap game.

    they have relationships directly with the vinyards built up over many years and so can buy at "trade" price. unless you have that relationship, you'll be scraping margins here and there. even my local offy (albeit a very, very fine offy) has relationships direct with the vinyards (he's taking me to taste the 2010 burgundy en primeur this autumn at the domaines he deals with). but then he doesn't just sell to punters over the counter and has some incredibly rare cases in his cellar.

    the other way is to buy en primeur and wait 2 years to resell it. however you really have to know a bit, preferably a lot and do your research. i'll get my bordeaux 2008s this autumn and several have made getting on for 100% growth since i paid for them in 2009 (and will hopefully break through that barrier in the next couple of months). however, i still have to pay duty (a pittance when you get towards this end of the market), VAT, definitely not a pittance and shipping plus VAT...

    as an example, a case i bought for £500 in may 2009 is now going for a minimum of £960 but that is all ex-tax. £20-odd duty, £100 VAT and £15-odd shipping per case. but then i could sell that, retail ie inc all taxes, for about £100 a bottle or £1100 for the case. but i can't as i'm not a licensed retailer.

    there's a lot of trade ex-duty and VAT, ie you never actually see the wine, you're just using it as an investment vehicle. you buy it speculatively en primeur from a merchant, say, farr vintners. when it's bottled, it is then shipped to their bonded, light-, temperature-, humidity- and vibration-controlled cave in wiltshire where it sits. when i've decided it's made enough i can get them to sell it for me for a 10% cut or they'll buy it off me for a 20% cut. where and how fine wine is stored is incredibly important and is called provenance. it is very easy to ruin a bottle of wine.

    2 big caveats - i know a little bit about the fine wine industry but i'd not know where to start if thinking about importing wine; secondly, you have to know which wines to buy. i've spent several years reading about fine wine, being lucky enough to drink some of it and researching it, so i feel relatively confident that the cases i buy will make me more profit, faster than just about any other investment. but get it wrong and you'll struggle to make even your money back.

    hope this helps you make the right decision (which i'd recommend is to probably not go down this path until you know exactly what you're doing!). as i said in my post above, if it was easy, i'd definitely be doing it!
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
  13. Wine2Dine4

    Wine2Dine4 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 1 Likes: 0
    I was wondering if anyone of you importers operate in the Herts Beds Bucks area?
    and are looking for someone to promote your wines without having to pay any wages???
    We organise tastings and wine introductions and are looking or new products all the time
    Introductions wanted
  14. PauloS

    PauloS UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 16 Likes: 0
    Hi there, My partner and I are involved in this business.....Yes the excise duty is the big killer and depends on the alcoholic percentage but it likely going to be £253.39 per 100 litres of wine that you import.....You don't have to buy ridiculous quality wine and sell to millionaires....There are plenty of small independant wine merchants that given the price is right and quality is there, will buy from you......Obviously in the long run the only way to make a decent profit is to take in larger volumes and expand your range, thus driving down the costs of transport/shipping per bottle.....