Atlas has storage at LCB Vinothèque and Vine International, two of the UK's leading bonded and temperature-controlled facilities.
The physical control of rare and valuable fine wine must be handled professionally – there are no short cuts. To that end, Atlas has dedicated personnel at LCB Vinothèque operating to the strictest standards. All client reserves are physically separated from Atlas’ own stock and are held in a different account. Atlas has invested in a new photography studio at LCB Vinothèque in order to provide high quality images of stock and thorough condition reports. Furthermore, Atlas has invested in systems to automate the exchange of information between our London office and LCB Vinothèque.
While the majority of client reserves will now be held at LCB Vinothèque, Atlas continues to have an account with Vine International to facilitate trade. Vine International is owned by Liv-ex Limited and is a specialist storage provider for fine wine merchants. As with LCB Vinothèque, Vine operates to the strictest standards.
Every case is traceable and associated to each client’s account by a Unique Identity Number.
Atlas has a system of Unique Identification Numbers which allows every case of wine to be traced. Each individual case of wine – irrespective of which of our two storage facilities it is located in – is assigned a unique identification number (UID). This code is affixed to the physical case, is stored in our system, can be viewed in your online account and on all formal stock listings.
3) Lien over Stock
Both LCB Vinothèque and Vine International have signed legal letters recognising the distinction between Atlas’ stock and each client’s stock. This letter confirms that neither provider has any rights over clients’ stock.
Our company stock and individual client stocks are clearly identified in separate accounts to remove any doubts over ownership. Your stock is further segregated into a sub-account at LCB Vinothèque. If desired, you can visit LCB Vinothèque at any time, with or without notice to Atlas, to check your stock, giving you the same level of security as if you held a direct contract with the bonded facility. Establishing clear ownership in segregated accounts provides the client with complete security in the unlikely event of anything ever happening to Atlas.
4) Condition of Stock
Visual checks of all stock purchased by Atlas are carried out by the highly trained staff at our storage providers. Although Atlas only sources stock of the finest condition, we carry out condition checks and photographs in the regularly as part of our ordinary course of business. We see this as our due diligence, especially where this is market sensitivity surrounding a specific wine. In instances where Atlas has elected to take a photograph, this is done at no additional charge to the client and images will be made available within the password protected pages of your online reserves.
- Stock consolidated at Atlas and delivered in from other merchants
When a client consolidates their reserves with us by transferring in wines held and purchased elsewhere, all stock will be subject to a visual check. We will recommend at this point that a client has specific high value, rare or mature stocks photographed for their own peace of mind. This precautionary step as this protects the client against poor condition or potentially fraudulent stock sourced outside of Atlas. The charge for such assessment is passed on at cost (currently £9.00 inc. VAT per photograph/ condition check). Should the client decline our request to photograph these stocks, Atlas assumes no responsibility for the condition or authenticity of the stocks and the client’s decision will be noted on our system.
We are aware that clients may wish to have specific cases of rare, mature and/or expensive wine opened and the individual bottles assessed/ photographed before the case is re-sealed. Should Atlas have already commissioned photographs as part of our due diligence procedures, these images will already have been made available to the client via our website. For any additional images required, these will be made available within 48 hours on each client’s online account. All charges for photographs and condition checks are relayed at cost, currently £9.00 inc. VAT per image.
Furthermore, photographs assist should you ever wish to sell. The prior availability of such detail can facilitate a faster trade as photographs are becoming a global industry standard.
5) Access to client stock
Atlas has established a means by which clients can access their own reserves without Atlas’ involvement at each of its storage locations, in the unlikely event that this need should arise.
Our Terms and Conditions establish the clear distinction between our stocks and our clients’ stocks. We are one of the only merchants to have implemented such protective measures. Our Terms and Conditions clearly stipulate Atlas’ role as an agent, working with the storage provider on behalf of the client.
LCB Vinothèque has the details of each client’s sub-account on their own system reconciled on an ongoing basis with Atlas, providing clients with an ongoing independent verification of their stock. If a client chose to access their stock outside of Atlas’ involvement, our personnel at Vinothèque would verify specific information relating to the account with the client for security purposes and request valid photographic identification before granting access.
For stock at Vine International, we have a similar arrangement in place. On a monthly basis, we send a detailed report to our lawyers, Fox Williams, which matches each client (their name, address, contact information and account number) to the reserves held on their behalf. This data is held in an escrow account by Fox Williams and can be drawn upon to identify ownership in the unlikely event that access is required outside of Atlas’ involvement.
Within our system, in your online reserves and on all formal stock listings, the location of your wine (be it Vinothéque or Vine International) is clearly identified.
NB. It is envisaged that all client reserves will be stored at LCB Vinothèque by the end of November 2017.
7) Insolvency Practitioner's Letter of Comfort
We commissioned Harrisons, an insolvency practitioner, to draw up a report commenting on Atlas' customer care procedures.
In Harrison's opinion, ‘the safeguards and agreements in place were sufficient to ensure that customers of Atlas Fine Wines will be able to take full possession of their wines and these wines would not be available to any officeholder appointed under insolvency.’