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The First Listed Company to Equity Crowdfund

A leading producer of English wines is to become the first UK listed company to turn to equity crowdfunding.

Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse with a sign on the front

Chapel Down is looking to raise at least £1m through leading equity-based platform Seedrs. The fundraise comes in addition to an initial placing of £0.67m with institutional and high net worth investors participating on the same terms. Chapel Down is listed on the ICAP Securities & Derivatives Exchange. That means that investors in this deal have a ready-made exit route in place at the time of investing. They’ll be able to trade their shares in Chapel Down on the ICAP exchange – an almost singularly unique luxury within the world of equity crowdfunding. The fact that the winemaker is listed also bolsters the appeal of Chapel Down as an investment opportunity. This is not the typical tale of a very early-stage business idea being crowdfunded, but rather of a profitable and fast growing, established business testing out a new avenue for funding growth. 

Jeff Lynn, CEO of Seedrs, commented:

“We are proud that such an iconic, successful and passionate business, leading the way for UK wine making, has chosen to raise funds on Seedrs, and in doing so bringing the opportunity to investors and customers.”

“This is a very appealing opportunity for investors and customers alike, and with the benefits of EIS and the 33% discount on wine and beer that is available for a modest investment of £560, we expect this campaign to be snapped up quickly.”

“This is yet another landmark campaign for equity crowdfunding worldwide, and it is great that it is a UK-based crowdfunding platform and an English winemaker that is making it happen.”

Chapel Down will make use of the funds raised to plant more vines, build a new winery, construct new distribution and storage facilities, build a brewery and a visitor attraction and extend the hospitality at the headquarters in Tenterden. The business raised £4.35m in an equity issue towards the end of 2013 – also for the purpose of various forms of expansion. Chapel Down’s sales are up 21% year-on-year.

Frazer Thompson, CEO of Chapel Down, also weighed in:

“At Chapel Down we pride ourselves in having products that are not only world class in terms of award-winning quality, but are unique, distinctive, good value, and made in England by a passionate company that invests in its people, its land and its community.”

“We want to provide an opportunity for our customers to be able to share in the success of our company. That’s why I am delighted to announce the launch of our crowdfunding offer with Seedrs which launches today. Using this innovative platform provides an opportunity for the thousands of passionate people who love Chapel Down to invest in our business and help secure our future success, as well as enjoy some terrific benefits that come with being a shareholder.”

“With new long term land leases securing an additional 387 acres of land for new vineyards, coupled with the prospect of an outstanding 2014 harvest we are more confident and more excited about the future of Chapel Down than ever.”

Talk of exits and IPOs is cause for serious excitement within the crowdfunding world. A number of external skeptics have been looking with concern at the lack of clear returns on offer via equity crowdfunding. It was around July of this year that ReWalk Robotics, which hosted a successful campaign on OurCrowd,filed for an IPO in order to raise up to $57.5m – thus completing the first significant exit for an equity crowdfunded business. The Chapel Down campaign is the next big step in the sector’s efforts to prove its worth to investors.

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