Asda’s BWS chief has set out her ambitions for the retailer’s drinks offer for the coming year, starting with the launch of a dedicated online wine site and a series of developments in spirits and beer.

Tracy Ford told OLN Asda’s aim was to become more sophisticated in its ranging to widen its appeal and attract shoppers currently buying from Tesco and online sites including Virgin and Naked Wines.

The launch next week of Asda’s online Wine Shop is central to its plans. It will offer free delivery plus a next-day, in-store collection service on 300 existing Extra Special and branded lines and an additional range of 200 web-exclusives.

The minimum order will be six bottles and customers can self-select mixed cases offering “thousands of combinations” of wines, made possible by having all stock in one warehouse rather than at multiple sites.

Ford said the range had not been determined by price, but by an ambition to engage shoppers seeking different wines not currently available in Asda’s stores. Prices range from £4 to £44 and the number of wines offered online could grow to 800 by next year.

She said: “We have always focused on value but we have realised there is a much broader spectrum of customer. We haven’t said that wines have to be a certain price.

“We are going to introduce reserve ranges of things that sell well in-store, such as Villa Maria, and independent vineyards, where store inventories mean they wouldn’t have been possible.

“We want to offer existing shoppers something new but part of our strategy is to appeal to shoppers who don’t yet buy our wine. We were behind the curve.”

She added the launch signalled a new strategy on Asda’s approach to pricing and delivering what customers want to buy.

She said: “If we want to be taken seriously [as a wine retailer] we have to focus on more than value. Value will continue to be a focus but I don’t think that appeals to consumers looking for a niche range.

“We’ve been guilty of having a one-size-fits-all model and now we are developing ranges to be more sophisticated. Three-for-£10 is an important mechanic for our customers but it is becoming unsustainable. We are constantly reviewing it, but it’s staying for now.”

She emphasised that spirits and beer remained a core focus and were also under- going some development.

Asda has added new bays, called Hot Spots, to 200 stores to enable the buying team to “highlight new products, promote browsing and to focus on more interesting things”.

The bays will be used as an alternative to gondola end promotions and are intended to showcase new products, including range extensions such as Baileys Chocolat Luxe.

The spirits aisles are also being redesigned to make room for a new range of 5cl products, priced from £3 to £5, to encourage shoppers to trial brands without the “massive outlay” of larger sizes.

Within the beer fixture, a tranche of world beers has been added to the existing range and Ford promised a raft of new products and initiatives – including a spring and summer push on cider – would follow in the next year.