Swaine calls for buying group

The post-First Quench wine trade needs a buying group for independents across the country, says Rhythm & Booze owner Martin Swaine, who might set one up.

“It’s a new land of opportunity,” he said. “It is sad to see the demise of First Quench but it opens the door to a lot of retailers who are more entrepreneurial and work more locally and regionally. Providing the government doesn’t get carried away with legislation we have a fantastic five to 10 years ahead of us.”?But he said independents and smaller chains need a national buying group that could negotiate better prices, a wider range, minimum case drops and improved credit terms. “It will be pushing an open door with suppliers because many of them – wine suppliers in particular – have lost a lot of volume following the demise of First Quench.”?However, Swaine said many suppliers who would like to trade with the independent sector would not necessarily want to work directly with – or deliver to – hundreds of small accounts.

He added that a buying group could help new wine merchants who found it hard to source interesting products from a cash and carry because they exist primarily to supply convenience stores.

“What wine merchants want to do more than anything is carry products that aren’t in the supermarkets, they want to be different,” he added. “There is an opportunity for us all to work together to get better value terms and maybe even deal some exclusive labels for the independent trade.”?“It is something I’m talking about, but there are only 24 hours in a day,” Swaine said. “Where do you stop? Do you provide promotions and POS, or would you just be providing products? “I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but there is an opportunity for someone to do it and I think the independent sector needs it.

“There are exciting times ahead for the independent sector. Conditions are tough but there is still a good opportunity as long as you try to be different.”