Nichols plugs gap at Spar

Spar has taken on former Oddbins buyer Emma Nichols to support its wine team as it continues to seek a replacement for departing wine controller Laura Jewell MW.

Jewell joined Spar in May 2009 and leaves this week to become Tesco’s product development manager for wine.

Nichols has been drafted in on a part-time basis as interviews for a permanent replacement enter the second round.

Until December 2008, Nichols was director of premium wine at Constellation Europe, having previously been buying and marketing director at Oddbins. However, it is understood she is not seeking to return to a buying role full-time.

Spar licensed trading director Chris Lewis said wine sales had jumped by 3.5% in the most recent quarter of 2010, buoyed by the World Cup. He added: “Spar’s long-term vision for wine began four years ago.

“Laura’s arrival helped us step up the pace. She has left things in a good state and Emma will keep it ticking over and developing. Our momentum behind wine will continue and we see there being massive long-term growth.”?Lewis said it had also revamped its current portfolio, adding more higher- priced wines to its core range as the average bottle price rose from £4.38 to £4.56 in the past year.

He added: “We’ve trimmed the bottom end to take out duplication and increased the range from areas such as Argentina and Chile where we were under represented. We are successfully pushing higher price points because we are attracting a broader range of consumer.

“Up until four years ago we had a big- brands model and no ambitions over £4.50. Now own-label is 25% of our business and growing at 15%.”