Retailers urged to persist with fine wine offering

22 February, 2013

The managing director of Mentzendorff has urged retailers not to be panicked into dropping the top ends of their wine ranges as the consumer purse continues to tighten.

Andrew Hawes acknowledges there is a “big temptation” to ditch your fine wine offering as UK drinkers are drinking less wine.

But he told OLN: “It is a mistake to think that in terms of range decisions the best thing to do is drop the top end and take the market down.

“I think retailers should take the same advice we give ourselves: it’s all about category management.

“I’m not denying economic reality: there needs to be an economical offering but equally there are moments when people want to trade up.

“People drink better but less often now.”

Instead Hawes believes “conditions are becoming increasingly polarised” and that mid-range wines will be sucked out of the market.

“The middle is where you don’t want to be with this polarisation,” he said.

“It’s no longer a good spot to occupy in the UK market.”

Mentzendorff is heeding its own advice by dividing its business between large volume orders and “increasingly working on service and value-led parts of the business”.

Hawes said: “The market is unquestionably consolidating. That forces people to think about what they are doing as a business.

“You can’t just continue to do what you have always done and hope everything will be ok – you need to think about your offering. The changes in the market since 2008 have forced us to do that.

“You hear a lot of negative comments about the UK wine trade but we are positive.

“We operate on the calendar financial year and set ourselves sensible budget targets which we beat.

The middle part of 2012 didn’t quite live up to expectations surrounding the Olympics but we are happy now.”

He also accused the wine trade of persisting with a "glass half-empty" approach to current conditions and urged everyone to focus on the positives in a bid to drive sales. 

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