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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Culver Street (Trading) Ltd, Vinsignia Ltd and the WIA

Château Gazin, Pomerol

Below is an anonymous comment left on the post about Premier Cru and Cult Wine Ltd. I'm not posting it there because it is not relevant. Instead here is a separate post covering Culver Street (Trading), Vinsignia Ltd and the Wine Investment Association.    

'Hi Jim,

A curious thing: having checked the Wine Investment Association website it seems that Culver Street Trading are no longer a registered member but that another company of which Hugo Rose (chairman of the Wine Investment Association) has miraculously taken its place. On further investigation, it seems that Culver Street are now in liquidation

So, the chairman's company is in liquidation and ghas been replaced by the WIA by another company he has an interest in. This raises many questions, least of which is, if Amphora Portfolio Management, who's membership has been "pending" for almost two years have not in that time had their audit and passed their initiation into the association, how on earth have this new company had the time to suddenly pass the audit? Have the WIA simply sneaked this company in through the back door? And is it a glowing recommendation of the WIA that the chairman of the association's company has gone into liquidation?'

Thanks for your comment. 

Firstly Hugo Rose MW was never a director of Culver Street (Trading) Ltd. He was a consultant to the company. His consultancy ceased in June 2014. You are correct that Culver Street (Trading) Ltd has gone into voluntary liquidation. 82-year-old Richard Wheeler is now the sole director in post. 

Vinsignia Ltd was formed on 15.12.2009 but not with that name. The company name changed to Vinsignia on 21.2.2012 and Hugo Rose MW was appointed as a director on 12.11.2012. The last accounts were filed on 31.12.2011 as a dormant company. The company's latest accounts have been overdue since 31st March 2014, although Hugo Rose says they have recently been filed.

I understand that Vinsignia Ltd and another company have taken over Culver Street (Trading) Ltd's customers and their stocks. This includes stock in the UK as well as in France. 

As far as Vinsignia Ltd and the WIA is concerned I assume a new audit has been carried out – given that Rose has been a director since November 2012 there would have been time for this to be done. 

I would agree that it does not reflect well that Vinsignia Ltd's accounts have not been filed on time and that a First Gazette was published on 1st July 2014, which was subsequently cancelled on 12th July. 

It is also curious that Amphora Portfolio Management Ltd's full WIA membership remains pending. As is the case with a number of wine retailers the WIA needs to bring its code of practice into line with the contracts legislation, which came into force across the EU on 13th June 2014.  



  1. when will this sham be put to bed

  2. I think the point here is being missed, Jim. You say that, "given that Rose has been a director since November 2012 there would have been time for this to be done." I think this is highly unlikely. It is no secret that the WIA, since launching almost two years ago, tried extremely hard to get as many members as possible, and it soon became a running joke that they couldn't scrabble together more than the four companies that the WIA's registered directors were directly involved with. Do you not think that, if in the last couple of years Vinsignia Ltd had passed the audit (or was even entered for it) the WIA would not have put them up on their site as a member as soon as the audit was passed (apart from anything else, why even take the audit if the intention is not to become a registered member?) What actually happened was that, as soon as Culver Street was taken off the WIA website, Vinsignia appeared. This is highly suspicious, and I feel that the only way to prove that this company has passed the audit is for both Hugo Rose, as chairman of the WIA, and the auditors themselves, to confirm this on this website.

    Secondly, the Wine Investment Association was set up to protect investors and make sure that the company the investors are dealing with doesn't go bust, like so many others have done, leaving said investors high and dry. I am not suggesting that a moment any of the clients of Culver Street will be left high and dry, but surely, if, after a period of less than 24 months after the association was set up, one of the only four companies being recommended by the association goes bust, is it not reasonable to declare the association not fit for purpose, and to have it closed down?

    So, a definitive answer please, from Hugo Rose. Has Vinsignia taken and passed the WIA audit. If so, on what date.

    It is also time for an explanation from the WIA as to what purpose it actually serves, and why it should not be closed down?

  3. Fair questions Anon – the process needs to be transparent.

    The WIA or any similar organisation can aim to safeguard the interests of clients, customers or investors but they cannot make sure that a member company doesn't go bust.

  4. It all stinks, clarification is needed on how Vinsignia passed the audit so quickly.

    Lets face it, Culver Streets accounts (along with APM and Provenance) were all looking fairly dismal when the WIA came in to being. Provenance's are looking even worse now!

    The real goal of this association is not to protect investors but to twist their arms in a difficult time. The association's fifth Core Aim is really their modus operandi... "to do such things as are necessary or expedient to sustain or raise the status of wine investment and the Members of the Association."

  5. On another WIA note...

    How Vin-X can continually use the phrase "Vin-X, the fastest growing fine wine investment company in the UK." is beyond me. It's on all their marketing blurb including Essential Tips for Wine Investors PDF downloadable from the main page of their site.

    Who says they are the fasting growing? Where did they get this from? Their accounts show they are shrinking. Surely this is misrepresentation? I thought the WIA "... seek to safeguard the general public against fraud, malpractice and misrepresentation"

    Could someone please clarify:
    1. In what way they are the fastest growing
    2. How did they obtain this wonderful statistic

  6. Can Jim or someone else please explain what is meant by the following:

    "WIA needs to bring its code of practice into line with the contracts legislation, which came into force across the EU on 13th June 2014."

    What exactly are the changes that came into force by the EU and what does it mean for wine buyers like myself???

  7. Anon. This refers to widespread changes affecting retailers and those who provide services.


  8. As no one from the Wine Investment Association will respond to any of these questions, perhaps a letter to the Fraud Office will do the trick. I think this "organisation" needs some proper investigation.

  9. Anon. There isn't a fraud office as such. Have you contacted the WIA directly? Here are their contact details:

  10. No, I haven't. Why waste the time with the blather they would respond with. They have had the opportunity to respond here and they haven't done so. And there is a fraud office. It is called the Serious Fraud Office. I will be contacting them to discuss the Wine Investment Association. It will probably achieve nothing but at the very least it will bring this organisation to the SFO's attention.

  11. Vinsignia's website is now down. According to Companies House they are in liquidation although it looks clear they have the funds to pay all their debts. Mr Rose is now a Director or Cellar&Co Limited. I wonder if we will see them joining the WIA soon