New retail venture for ex-Unwins chief

23 July, 2010

The former marketing director of the Unwins off-licence chain has returned to his retail roots with the launch of a new wine and food concept.

Bill Rolfe will operate the Market Square separately from his 10 International wine agency and brands business, and opens his first store in East Grinstead, West Sussex, on August 13.

It will be owned by Rolfe and fellow investors Neil Bench and Toby Hancock.

The shop will offer fresh bread, cheese, local produce and imported delicacies in addition to an upmarket selection of wines. Rolfe hopes it will be the first store in a small estate of the Market Square shops.

He said: “I’ve always had a love for the retail side of the business. I’m passionate about it because you come face to face with the end user – it’s more rewarding.”?The 1,500sq ft double-fronted former Threshers shop is located in East Grinstead’s old town, and will employ six staff.

Rolfe had originally hoped to buy 10 former First Quench sites but administrator KPMG did not want to negotiate for such a small number of sites.

Rolfe said the 10 International range, including Pink Elephant, would be represented in the shop “in some shape or form”, but the Market Square will not attempt to undercut the company’s existing retail customers.

He said: “We’ll be sourcing the known brands but, of course, with our own wine contacts we’ll be looking to introduce some eclectic wines that aren’t available elsewhere. We’ll be upmarket and classy but not ridiculously expensive.”?Rolfe hopes to use the Market Square as the focus for a buying group linking other independent merchants.

“Because we have access to wines from all around the world, we can supply a group of independents if they wanted to join an unofficial buying group,” he said. “They would have access to smaller-volume wines where you still need to bring in a pallet to make it cost efficient.”

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