Independents buck low wine price trend

Merchants' bottle price way above trade average

Independent wine merchants are achieving average bottle prices of £7.24 - almost 77 per cent higher than the off-trade average of £4.10, OLN can reveal.

The figure, based on sales figures from OLN's database of 512 independent wine specialists, provides a beacon of hope at a time when retailers and suppliers alike fret about getting consumers to go beyond their £4.99 comfort zone.

OLN found that one third of independent wine merchants have an average sales price of between £7 and £7.99 a bottle, and almost 18 per cent put the figure at more than £10.

The research also illustrates the spectacular growth that independent wine specialists have enjoyed in recent times. Of the 512 stores that were identified at the start of the project - a joint venture with Wines of Chile - 35 per cent have opened since 2000 and almost two thirds have appeared since 1990.

Research already conducted has revealed a bullish mood among the stores, with 63 per cent predicting higher sales in the coming year. Our latest survey has also found that just under a quarter of the businesses want to open another branch.

Wines of Chile's UK director Michael Cox said the £7.24 average bottle price was "higher than one might have thought but extremely encouraging".

He added: "The most pleasing thing is it proves there are consumers out there who are prepared to pay more. If the wine trade handles it right it really can steer people towards paying higher prices for better quality wine."

Simon Evans, co-director of The Naked Grape in Alresford, Hants, said the key to achieving high average bottle prices was personally endorsing every wine in the shop and avoiding brands stocked by supermarkets.

"People who come into independents are willing to spend £2 or so more because they know they are going to get something that's worth it," he said. "Price is not the most important thing for our customers. It's what the wine tastes like and we don't sell anything that we haven't tasted ourselves and are prepared to recommend."