First Class Products

Enterprise success stories

Tom Ellis

Tom Ellis (Exeter alumnus, Geography 2010) started his business, First Class Products (Oxford) Ltd importing and distributing Champagne, whilst at the University as an undergraduate reading Geography. He started a small tennis ball business whilst still at school, aged 16, but on reaching Exeter he successfully negotiated an exclusive UK import arrangement with Leroux-Mineau Grand Cru Champagne.

Tom built his business through the three years at Exeter and undertook a dissertation on sustainable agricultural techniques in Champagne in his final year. The business has been growing since his graduation.

He now sells the total production volume from the Leroux-Mineau vineyard in the UK and has recently won the rights to import the prestigious Champagne brand Chassenay d’Arce. This house produces in excess of 1 million bottles a year and already sells in France, Europe and America.

Tom believes this could be the most exciting development for his business since its initial launch.

“Chassenay d’Arce has been well recognised in the industry receiving medals in the International Wine Challenge and has been classed as one of the top 10 sparkling wines of the world,” he said.

“Exeter is a great launch pad for any aspiring business people and I hope that more and more students, past and present, will become young entrepreneurs of the future.”

Erwan Thill, sales manager at Chassenay d’Arce says “the dedication of Tom and his remarkable knowledge of both Champagne and the UK drinks markets makes me feel happy and full of confidence for the future of our partnership”.

You can find out more on the First Class Products website.