Vagabond plans three new stores, a microbrewery and an urban winery
Vagabond Wines has revealed plans to open three new stores and create a London-based microbrewery and a separate urban winery in the capital.
The retailer will open a new store in Clapham in July, followed by others in Victoria in October and Battersea in April 2017, taking the estate up to six.
Stephen Finch, Vagabond’s managing director, told OLN: “In the Clapham store we are adding beer growlers because we want to make a bigger push on beer.
“It means we will be able to offer beer by the glass and samples on site. I always wanted to include more beer but until we could add growlers we couldn’t adopt a strategy that was consistent with our approach to wine.
“In Clapham we will also be expanding our food offer. That whole Northcote Road area has lots of people out looking for food but the options are not great at the moment. There are a lot of chains and we think there is a good appetite for some good non-chainy food options.”
Vagabond’s Victoria store will be its biggest and will offer up to 140 wines on tap, instead of the standard 100.
The Battersea store is also a big site, according to Finch.
“It has a nice outside area facing the power station and the river. I am pretty excited about that one but it might be a slow start. Once the power station development goes live – and word has it that Apple will base its headquarters there – I expect some good things from that site.”
After this, Vagabond aims to open three sites a year. “We will keep looking for places where people want a Vagabond but we don’t want to lose what makes us special and we don’t want to suffer like brands who grow too quickly do.”
Finch said the beer side of the business will be a focus area at all its new venues.
He said: “Beer has really taken off and we are looking to get in on that –so much so that we are opening our own microbrewery in Hackney so we can brew our own beers.
“We should be ready to produce beers – under a new brand name – in two or three months. We will aim to sell them through our stores in growlers and bottles.”
The microbrewery will have a pale ale, an IPA and a lager as its core beers but the focus will be around small-batch and experimental beer production.
We have a very experienced brewer who has worked for some well-known breweries and I’ve told him it’s no holds barred when it comes to experimenting with beer styles,” said Finch.
Vagabond is also currently looking for the right location to create an urban winery – following on from London Cru, opened a couple of years ago by retailer Cliff Roberson – which will make Vagabond-branded English wine using English grapes.
“It will be primarily still wine and we aim to have a venue where people can enjoy wine with food in an interactive way. We will make the wine on site and we can then bottle it to sell through the other venues, but we don’t anticipate this to be before autumn 2017 to tie in with harvest time.
“I envisage this to be small-batch again. I like the idea of having a few barrels of each and when it’s gone it’s gone.
“It won’t be a large production thing.”