Freixenet Copestick secures new warehouse and reveals raft of NPD for off-trade

Freixenet Copestick has said its online wine retailer Slurp has taken on a new warehouse and more staff to deal with the continued increase in demand, while alongside this the wine producer is rolling out a number of new products for the off-trade. 

Freixenet's managing director, Robin Copestick, told DRN: “All online wine retailers recorded an increase in demand just before and over the lockdown period. Slurp was in a good position when this happened because it did have its own warehouse and it did its own packing so that made it able to cope with demand in the short-term, but demand is continuing so that led to the decision to take on a new warehouse and seven new members of staff.

“Slurp gained 3,500 customers over the last few weeks, which is more than our yearly target for customer acquisition. 

“On the evening of March 24, when Boris Johnson addressed the nation, we took more than £120,000 whereas a normal daily turnover would be more like £5,000, so it is not normal at all. 

“People don’t really want to go out food shopping very often and the on-trade is shut, so they can’t go out, which means online businesses are in a good position.”

For the overall Freixnet Copestick business, Copestick said it has been a “very challenging few weeks”, although he confirmed the company is doing well. 

He said: “Obviously the global situation is incredibly serious and I don’t want to downplay that, but I think we can do our bit by helping to make nice wine, bring new ideas and a bit of fun to everybody

"It is interesting the way the UK market has evolved and I think brands are becoming really important again. We had a stage where it was all about own-label and when half-price promotions were all over the place. But I think that when we moved on from all of those promotions we started to see branded lines - particularly ones that can really excite the consumer - actually started to do really well and retailers are now understanding that as well."

The company decided not to put a hold on NPD and in recent days it has launched an Italian still wine collection under its Freixenet label, which has already secured a few listings, and also an I Heart Superheroes concept. 

Referring to the latter, he said: “It was meant to just be a giveaway for the NHS and that was the original idea. And then we thought yes, the NHS is doing an incredible job but so are all the other key workers and the mums and dads, and so we extended the concept. The I Heart Instagram page has just gone mad. We had 1,300 nominations just on the first day, and we are giving away 2,500 bottles. 

“Tesco and Sainsbury’s saw the design and they want it on their shelves as well so we have 100,000 bottles now to be made with that label. It will be on shelves early May. So despite the crisis and despite the retailers being really up against it, they still really want these ideas to come, and so that has been incredible.”

The company is also set to launch a Care For Wild wine and partnership with Care For Wild Rhino Sanctuary in South Africa.

Copestick said: “I have really high hopes for this one. South Africa makes some really good wine but for whatever reason none of the South African wines are engaging the consumer, but I think this can do it and it has a great story too. 

“We are going to do as big a marketing push as we possibly can with some advertising and we are doing to bring in enough wine so that we can sell it to some indies as well.

“We are in a lucky position to be able to use Slurp as a test case and that is where we will launch it first. We can then go to the multiple retailers and say we launched it at this price point and consumers loved it. And all the while providing some good business for Slurp too.”

"The retailers I have shown it to so far are very interested.”

Freixenet Copestick also plans to add to its I Heart brand over the coming weeks. 

It is about to launch a French Mediterranean Provence-style rose, which is just being bottled. It will also add a Malbec to the varietal range. The brand already has a Reserve Malbec and now it is adding one in the £6 bottle range, which will launch in Morrisons in the summer.

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