Silver lining of the First Quench cloud

Independent wine merchants have been hailed as the most profitable route to market by leading importers in the wake of the collapse of First Quench.

Ehrmanns has pledged to “invest heavily” in the independent channel in the next five years.

Managing director Hugo Campbell said: “We are offering product partners other routes to market than the supermarkets. It’s very important we offer a point of difference and a tailored range. It adds value and we can sell more interesting wines.

“We want to build the portfolio from a premium perspective, moving more into the £8-£15 bracket. The independent side is key to us.”?Hatch Mansfield marketing director Lynn Murray said “the demise of Threshers is revitalising the market”.

Opportunities are also opening up for independents as supermarkets cut their ranges, according to Murray.

“As you see the supermarkets rationalising their range [there’s a] real opportunity for independents to offer consumers interesting wines,” she said.

Hatch Mansfield’s premium agencies, such as Esk Valley from Hawkes Bay, are ideally suited to the independent channel, Murray claimed, because the wines are “hand-made from much smaller producers” and require staff to explain the product to prospective customers.

Independents are a “new channel” for González Byass since it took on Quinta do Noval port, according to marketing director Jeremy Rockett. “Previously we didn’t have enough diversity of producers. Noval opened up that opportunity,” he said.

Rockett added that the demise of the old Wine Rack has “helped rejuvenate Oddbins and led to a growth of independents”.