Making a meal of it

29 June, 2007

The Glassford Street, Glasgow, branch of this 13-strong Scottish chain boasts an off-licence in the basement, deli and café on the ground floor and restaurant above . Rebecca Evans spoke to manager Christopher Randall about how the drinks shop be

The Glassford Street, Glasgow, branch of this 13-strong Scottish chain boasts an off-licence in the basement, deli and café on the ground floor and restaurant above . Rebecca Evans spoke to manager Christopher Randall about how the drinks shop benefits from the other elements of the business

What's the history of the company?

It was set up in 1982 by Tony Johnson and the company is privately owned with three directors. He opened the first deli/wine merchant in the west end of Glasgow. He saw a niche for wine and people getting ready meals.

This building is in the Merchant City area of Glasgow which has been revamped over the past 10 years. The building must have been a tailor's or textile works because they found lots of old needles and threads in the walls and floorboards when it was refurbished.

How do Peckham & Ryes operate?

There are 13 stores, including the one we've just opened in Prestwick airport , and we also have a wholesale business in the north of England.

As well as the deli on the ground floor, this store includes a restaurant. We rent out the top floors to people running cookery and dance classes, including Tai Chi lessons and pole dancing. We just hope people don't come to the wrong place when we organise tastings!

Describe your range.

The wine side has more than 300 lines and we have more than 100 whiskies. We have a large selection of Australian wine, and a larger French section covering the whole spectrum from Bordeaux to ­Burgundy, including boutique wineries that people haven't usually heard of. We have a range of Riojas from £5.99 up to £25. We also have wines from Lebanon, Portugal , Austria and quite a large selection of organic wine.

We have hung national flags from the ceiling to denote each country or region, and also have hand-written tasting notes on the shelf.

What's the average customer spend

It's around £15, with the average price for wine around £7.99.

How does being part of a larger business, including a restaurant and deli, help your off-sales?

People come downstairs to find something to match with the food they've just bought. We can also use food from the deli in our wine tastings, such as Rioja with chorizo. We close the drinks shop at midnight to take advantage of people browsing after going to the restaurant.

What events do you run?

The staff organise regular wine tastings. Sometimes it'll be themed by country and other times it'll be to highlight wine we've got a lot of. Suppliers work with us as well - we've had Moët trying out new vintages on us. We have an annual beer and wine tasting and offer canapés to match the wines. It starts off quite civilised and in the end we have to push the customers out on to the street .

Have you spotted any sales trends?

People are going back to French wine, cooling off on Australian wine and are willing to try Old World again. Spanish wine is also popular.

On the beer side, a lot of people are going for Polish beer, particularly Lech and Tyskie. We've had three Polish people working in the store - in fact, I've just got engaged to one of them . We stock Australian beers such as Coopers Sparkling Ale because people are coming back from backpacking trips and want to be able to drink the beer they had out there.

Have you tried anything that hasn't worked?

We did stock an Italian wine called ­Cussoma which was made of unusual grape varieties. We tried a 15 per cent discount, but it just didn't sell well.

Do you have much competition from other drinks shops?

Peckham's is in a fortunate position because we've got a good name and people recognise it.

There are not that many other off-licences around apart from Oddbins and Majestic, although that could possibly change. Tesco has just opened a store up the road and there's some building work going on next door, so we're keeping an eye on that.

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

The store is going through a revamp, with both the deli and the wine shop to be put in the basement and more space given over to the café on the ground floor.

The range might have to be condensed, but perhaps we've got too many lines anyway. We might broaden our 1982 club - where we keep in touch with customers interested in high-end and unusual wines - to include medium-range wines.

Best sellers

McGuigan Simeon black label red blend £5.75

Arak (Lebanese aperitif) £19.99

Coopers Sparkling Ale £1.59

Cuvée Gabriel Merlot Vin de Pays d'Oc £5.95

Domaine de Brau Vins de Pays d'Oc £6-£7

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