Originally set up as a broker, Brunswick Fine Wines & Spirits has been around since 2016. Earlier this year, the company started an ecommerce offer and opened a physical shop in Brighton. Store manager Matt Ainscough tells Lucy Britner about the retail operation
The owners bought the building in December 2020 and did extensive renovation work. The rest of the business operates on the two floors above and it’s predominantly client sales, but also broking and trading. That part of the business has been running successfully for the past six years and has a turnover of £11 million.
Then we have the bottom floor – we decided to put in a retail space, and it ties in nicely with the rest of the business. It gives us a face for potential clients. We thought we could attract a local footfall as well. We think that the model is unique. There’s nothing like it in Brighton, probably not much like it in the south east and potentially the rest of the UK.
The walk-ins will be shopping around £20-80 a bottle. It could be a mixture of local repeat customers, and we do quite well with tourists and people buying for gifts. We do really well with English sparkling wine, Champagne, and quite classical options such as Bordeaux and red and white Burgundy. Generally speaking, the walk-in price point will be lower than what we’re seeing online and with some of our client sales, but that’s to be expected.
The shop is divided into three connecting areas. There are spirits and daily drinking wines as you walk in, the middle section houses a tasting room and retail Champagne wall, then there’s a temperature-controlled cellar at the back for fine and rare bottles.
We are predominantly Old World. The roots of the business are based in France, northern Italy, and pockets of Spain. I am conscious we need to expand the offering for the retail aspect – we have some wines from Australia and New Zealand, so we’ve started to broaden our offer.
Though we stock and sell a variety of high-end items, they are fairly priced and firmly in touch with any competitors offering similar. On our website there is an Our Producers tab – producers that we import ourselves and which we are very well priced on, as we are buying direct. We also work with suppliers of all sizes.
For instance, we have a relationship with Moët Hennessy, driven by specific wines, but it also allows us to purchase its spirits, which we can subsequently retail very competitively. Spirits are a key component of the business but we’re predominantly wine. We do have a solid offering of Scotch whisky, and with the retail side of the business we’ve branched out into stocking some rums, some Cognacs and some white spirits.