Tony and Veronica Cleary established Lanchester Wine Cellars in 1980 to import and wholesale wines across the UK.
Over the last 42 years, the business has grown exponentially, diversifying across different areas of expertise within the UK wine and gifting sectors and their supporting industries. Combined, the group employs over 550 people and achieved a combined income of £110.5million for the financial year ending 30th June 2021.
The Lanchester Group of Companies comprises Lanchester Wine Cellars Ltd, Greencroft Bottling Company Ltd, Newcastle’s Full Circle Brew Co, Lanchester Energy Ltd, Lanchester Properties Ltd, gift hamper business Spicers of Hythe Ltd, The Wine Fusion Ltd and luxury hand-packed confectionery business, Bon Bon’s (Wholesale) Ltd.
“We are a diverse group of businesses spanning different sectors and various customer bases. This was a strategic development plan to ensure that, as a group, we remain strong with each business supporting the others as needed”, Tony explains.
Raised in Durham, Tony started his liquor career at Whitbread’s Brewery in nearby Castle Eden where he sold beer and spirits. He then joined Domecq Sherry and later United Rum Merchants as district sales manager. Seven years later, at age 27, Tony, spotting the potential in wine, left United Rum and established Lanchester Wine Cellars.
With just £4,000 of Tony’s savings and a further £1,000 investment from friends, the business was established. Veronica and Tony’s living room on Meadow Way became the company office with stock stored at a nearby rented warehouse.
The business initially sold wine to local off licences and restaurants, and continues to do so to this day. Over the years the company expanded its salesforce and the outgrew both the Cleary’s house and subsequent office space in Lanchester Village, County Durham – both above the betting shop and above the library.
In 2000 Lanchester Wines bought the former Ransome and Marles site at the Greencroft Estate in nearby Stanley, providing the company with land for office space and warehousing, including income from the estate’s tenants. Over the years, the Lanchester group has expanded to occupy the Estate, taking over previously rented plots as tenants moved on. The company continues to further invest in the land adding infrastructure, buildings and renewable energy generation facilities.
Veronica and Tony believe the profits from the business should be reinvested within the business, which remains 100% owned by the Cleary family. The couple’s three children – Alexandra, Ben and Caroline – all work within the business and investing in its future stability is key.
As such, the business has privately invested over £8m in renewable energy and heat implementation for its sites across the North East of England. Today, the business is powered almost completely by renewable wind and solar energy
In November 2020, Tony was awarded an MBE for services to International Trade and Export in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2020. However, due to Covid restrictions he was unable to officially collect his award until November 2021. He was joined at Windsor Castle by his family who are Lanchester residents and named their business after the village.