Local focus for Wine Shak

05 March, 2010

Hampshire-based Wickham Vineyards has vowed to stock the 15 former First Quench stores it rescued from closure with “local products from local suppliers”.

The wine producer is in talks with local wine suppliers and breweries after buying nine Wine Rack stores and five Threshers in Hampshire – including branches in Southampton, Winchester and the New Forest – and one Wine Rack store in Dorset. The new shops have been renamed Wine Shak.

Owner Nitin Parekh told OLN: “The first thing we wanted to do was source as locally as we could. Our key to differentiation is that we are a local company –we want to make sure other local businesses are able to survive.”

Alongside wines from Wickham’s own portfolio, the shops will stock a “strong organic and Fairtrade offering” and wines from Europe and the New World that aren’t available in supermarkets.

The tobacco range previously offered by Threshers and Wine Rack will be reduced.

“We are trying to position ourselves between the high-end specialist shops and where Wine Rack was before,” Parekh said. “It’s very important for us to get wine to a wider audience. The name Wine Shak conveys that we know about wine, but it’s not a grandiose, overbearing type of name.

“Customers aren’t going to feel overawed by esoteric vintages – why walk into a wine shop and feel intimidated?”

Parekh added that the 64 shop staff retained in the deal will be given further wine education and managers will be granted greater autonomy to source wines that suit their shop’s particular customer demographics.

Tastings in the shops will be used to promote Wickham’s Wine Share club, which gives members the opportunity to attend tutored tastings and events at Wickham’s vineyards and others in Beaujolais, Provence, Côtes de Duras and Chianti.

Members can also buy wines at special rates or from Wickham’s warehouse in Calais.

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