Wine investment seeks wealthy Bacchus

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The Independent Online
FIRST THERE was Euro Disney, then there was Mr Blobby's Crinkly Bottom. Now a world of wine is to open in London. So confident is the founder of Vinopolis - City of Wine - under railway arches on the Thames, next to Southwark Cathedral, that he plans to float the business on the stock exchange.

The attraction, which could be valued at pounds 50m is the latest venture of Sandy Anderson, the former Porterbrook Leasing millionaire. The pounds 23m attraction, which aims to present "all the pleasures of wine under one roof", opens in July. But Mr Anderson wants a listing on the Alternative Investment Market next year to raise the business profile and fresh funds. At least 450,000 visitors are expected to visit Vinopolis in the first 12 months. Mr Anderson said: "We will definitely float the business next year."

Vinopolis will feature a multi-media tour of the wine world, a tasting hall and four restaurants. Visitors will pay pounds 10 which will include five tastings from 120 wines. Mr Anderson, who does not consider himself a wine buff, has a 30 per cent stake in the business trading as Wineworld London. He is raising pounds 6m more from City contacts for further growth.

"We think we can develop the concept in places like Japan and America," he says. The company also plans to set up an Internet service selling wine and may sell subscriptions to its wine database. Mr Anderson, who made an estimated pounds 33m from the sale of Porterbrook, is chairman of Honeycombe Leisure, a pubs business quoted on Aim.

Vinopolis visitors will be able to buy wines from the vaults, as well as wine glasses. Recent figures show as many as 11 million people buy a bottle of wine or more a week.