Community chain launches

04 February, 2011

A former First Quench franchisee has set up a chain of four shops in south west London, in former Threshers and Wine Rack sites.

Feng Chen had been running a franchised First Quench shop in Teddington for about a year when the company went bust in 2009, and acted quickly to set up his own wine business and rebrand his shop as Premier Wine.

He began looking for other shops and now has branches in Thames Ditton, Twickenham and Strawberry Hill.

All the chain’s staff are former Threshers and Wine Rack workers.

“Our business model is that we are in the middle of communities or villages,” said marketing manager Michael Gatehouse, who managed a Wine Rack in Barnes and was a training manager for First Quench. “We are not interested in high streets or supermarket price wars.

“We have a selection of wines of two different types. The first is branded wines at a reasonably competitive price. The second is interesting and unusual wines that we can turn our regular customers on to, to try something new.

“The point is that because we are in village locations we get a regular customer base coming in, we get to know them and build it up that way.”?The chain is not offering big discounts or three-for-two offers, but is focusing on six-for-five deals and generally keeping prices competitive.

Gatehouse added: “Chen trained at the Hampton shop, and because that is very much a village location where everybody knows everybody else, he realised that works and you can tailor your business to the needs of the customer.”?Chen is now looking to grow his estate to six by the summer and possibly eight by the end of the year, and will then spend time consolidating the business.

“We’ve learned a lot from what happened to First Quench. It’s all about not making those mistakes again but picking out the good bits,” said Gatehouse.

“The other thing about this company is it’s run on an intimate level, it has more of a family feel to it. We all come to meetings and talk about what works and what doesn’t, and we all do shifts in shops, including the owner.”

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