Laithwaites learns from retailing trial

09 August, 2007

Laithwaites has closed its trial branch in London's Fenchurch Street, where customers had been forced to place orders for direct delivery wine rather than being allowed to take it away there and then.

But the company - the biggest mail-order wine business in the world - insists it remains keen on opening more traditional shops.

It already has nine stores and is actively seeking more in the Home Counties, though it admits progress has been slow due to a shortage of suitable sites.

Head buyer Peter Greet described Fenchurch Street as "an idea that was ahead of its time".

He added: "The signage was difficult and people didn't know what they were coming into. People have been programmed to go into an off-licence and take away a bottle of wine and it was hard to get over to people that they couldn't do that."

Greet said Laithwaites had not put a figure on the total number of shops it was aiming for but said the traditional retail business was "more than a sideline".

He added: "They are another channel to market that we're still learning about - the picture on the high street is very fluid.

"We remain interested in opening new shops if they're in the right locations. People still want to see and feel the bottles and there is a pleasure in buying wine from people who sell well."




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Rosé tinted glasses

I was asked recently what I thought the biggest change had been in wine fashion in the past five years. My answer was unequivocal: sales of pink wines. From being a niche that expanded and contracted with the sunshine, rosé has subtly but steadily become a stalwart of many merchants’ ranges, with Provence firmly at the top and asked for by name.

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