Campbell’s of Leyburn, North Yorkshire

Campbell’s of Leyburn has served as a grocery retailer for the area for 150 years. It is a member of Costcutter but is

independently owned and run by the Campbell family. The current proprietor is a Campbell, and her brother-in-law, Richard Walker, who has worked for the business for 30 years, is now the retail manager. He is also responsible for wine and spirits buying.

Tell us about the BWS section in the store.

We tend to use the upstairs area for fine wine and spirits.

We have everyday supermarket wines downstairs and promotions on those. These are mostly sourced through Costcutter but some of our other wine suppliers do have wines they can offer us that fit into this section, particularly if they are priced around the £6 mark.

Upstairs we have more of the family-owned vineyard wines. Shoppers also go upstairs to seek out certain types of brandy or gin, or perhaps premium whiskies.

It is just alcohol upstairs and we have around 2,000 wines, and 1,000 spirits. It’s a bit of an Aladdin’s Cave, or, as I call it, the stairway to heaven.

I am always looking at freshening things up and I deal with about 20 active accounts and suppliers.

What is your competition like?

There is a specialist shop nearby in Northallerton and there are other wine shops in neighbouring villages.

But we do seem to attract a number of people who travel quite a long way as they have known us for a while and we have a big wine section.

We are lucky that we are in a nice part of the world and it attracts a lot of visitors, so we get tourists coming in here too.

What sells well in the drinks section?

Gin has gone crazy and we have about 120 of them. Local gin sells particularly well and we have even launched our own through a local distiller.

Premium spirits do well, as do liqueurs. We have items that people don’t see anywhere else. We try to offer something unique.

We are doing well with wines from Spain, and this seems to be a region that is improving a lot.

Our French wine section is probably the biggest. Otherwise it is seasonal, so rosé sells well in the summer, for example.

There isn’t really any area that is particularly jumping out because we have good sales from a number of areas, but I can highlight southern Italy and Sicily, which seem to be attracting a lot of interest.

Our suppliers are always offering new things and recently we took on some new wines from South America, including some from Uruguay and Chile.

Other wines we have stocked for the first time this year include some from the Republic of Macedonia and Romania.

White port and tonic is doing well. That’s how the Portuguese drink it.

People were introduced to it at a port tasting event we did in the store. Tawny port also went down well and it keeps for longer in the fridge than other styles.

What do you do to keep customers coming back?

We have a wine club, which is free to join and it basically adds people to our mailing lists. Unfortunately we lost people from our list when GDPR came in, so the list went from 1,600 to about 500.

“But each week I keep in touch with these people and I now have a 50% response rate, which is much better than it was when the list was much bigger.

Membership entitles people to 5% off wines from the upstairs area, and it works well.

Then we do invites to tastings, and we run two or three events each month.

We have a winemaker from New Zealand coming in next week. We are very lucky to get him because he isn’t in the country for very long. He is coming to talk about his wines.

People who come to these events tend to range in age from 20 to 40 and we can accommodate up to 50 people, seated for a two-hour tasting.

I think it is important that we do these events because we have more than 2,000 wines and people like to learn about them.

When we do a wine evening we always provide food. We have a deli and a butcher’s downstairs so we can do this.

We also do things such as cheese and wine nights. Some of the wines go better with food and we need to demonstrate this.

What are your plans for the future?

Recently we have been able to use our upstairs as a drink-in area, so we open on Saturday daytimes and sometimes we offer free tastings with spirits.

From the gin side it works really well.

We have many gins and this helps to sell them. If you are to pay £40 for a bottle of gin then you want to be sure you will like it.

We are always looking at what tastings and events we can do. Three times a year we have specialist tasting days, so we do one in the summer and one at Christmas, for example.

There are a number of suppliers who come to these. And it is all on one day, so we have Christmas food downstairs and drinks upstairs. We might have 12 to 15 suppliers.

Related articles: