Borough Wines embarks upon franchise scheme

Borough Wines is embarking on a franchise scheme for its retail estate as the business continues to ramp up its focus on wholesale. 

It will retain 100% ownership of its original store in London’s Borough Market, but the other nine stores in the estate could transfer to a new ownership model. 

The scheme would see 60% of a store owned by independent store managers and 40% by Borough Wines. Three stores have already been converted to the new franchise system while others are in the transition process.

Founder Muriel Chatel told DRN: “I didn’t really want to buy from our competitors as this was not my business model, but the store managers are more empowered this way and they can buy elsewhere.”

Last year Borough Wines announced it was focusing more on wholesale in a bid to become a leading supplier of wines on tap. 

Chatel said the two post-Brexit referendum stores it opened in 2017 – in Chiswick and Battersea Park – have underperformed. 

The Battersea Park store closed at the end of December, but Chatel said she is in talks with a potential franchisee for this shop. 

She said: “It is a very challenging market and those stores were not working as they should have done. For us it is more about evolving and we are now moving our warehouse so that we can concentrate on the kegging and wholesale areas of the business. For us it is a lot safer to focus on wholesale.”

Wine on tap is a key focus of its wholesale business and Chatel launched a bottle refill system for shoppers at the initial stall in 2002. 

The business now shares this expertise with operators in the on-trade. It sources wines from around the world, ships them to its warehouse then puts them into kegs for distribution. When these are empty it can collect them from customers to refill them. 

Its keg portfolio currently comprises 24 wines and it has house wines along with a premium tier. 

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