World of Wines opened in Henfield, West Sussex, in November 2006 following the success of other stores in nearby Steyning and Storrington. Manager Matthew Brookbank knows the site very well, having managed the shop when it belonged to the Unwins chain. Working for an independent company is very different, however, as he has more say in the direction of the business and
the stock , giving him the buzz he always craved. The shorter opening hours
- Tuesday to Saturday from 10am - 5.30pm - also allow him to work more regular hours.
What is the history of this shop?
This was an Unwins,
which I ran for six
half years until
it went bust. I wasn't going to come back into this business, but when I heard that the owners of World of Wines were looking to open a shop in Henfield, I thought:
"This is the sort of shop I want to run ." I'd seen the shop in Steyning and liked it, so when I was offered the position I took it. We opened in November last year and it was done the way I wanted it to be done. It's a small business and there are about eight of us working across the three shops who are part of a team. If there's a problem we all help each other out, or if we have an idea we bounce it off each other. It works really well.
How do you choose which wines
We frequently have group tastings where we get together and taste a range of wines. If the quality is good enough
we'll look at whether the price is right and then
decide whether to stock it. If the quality is not good enough, regardless of the price, we just won't stock it
because we know our customers
wouldn't buy it. W e are all about
doing unusual wines ; not doing the big brand wines, but doing something comparable. When people
ask if we have Hardys we say:
" No, but we have got something comparable on price ."
The other thing we can do as an independent is
- if a wine is imported and a customer wants it but we don't sell it
- we will get a case for them. You couldn't do that if you were a big chain.
What is the most unusual wine-producing country you stock wine from?
We have a wine from Nashik in India. It's a Shiraz from the Sula vineyards and it sells for £8.25. We haven't had it for very long, so it's hard to say how it's doing, but we also have some wines from Lebanon,
which do very well
because they are very good. We try
to stock as much as possible from all over. We are quite strong in the New World, but there are a lot of Francophiles around here so we have expanded our range of French wines since opening
to cater for them.
Do you run any special offers or promotions?
We opened up with a very softly-softly approach to discounting. We do regular monthly offers with a focus on a particular country usually, although we have offers on rosé at the moment
because it is so popular. We also do multi-saves which is a sign of the times. We have a Pure range of wines that we sell at three-for-£15 and our cheapest wine, Sañador, we sell at three-for-£10. We also sell three ales for £5. They are not huge discounts, but they get people interested.
How much do your customers spend on a bottle of wine?
We stock wine from £3.75 up to £70, which all go at various times, but our biggest sales are in the £6-£10 price bracket.
do you stock other than wine?
We have a small range of spirits, which we are looking to expand, especially in the malt whisky department, and we sell port and sherry too
because I think it's important to stock them. We do a very large range of dessert wines - about 12 - because it's a particular interest of the company.
How important is it to focus on the presentation of the wine
All our hard wood shelves were handmade by a guy
who does all the building and contracting for the business, so they have been
made specifically for this shop. The idea is to make it as clear and neat as possible for customers. As it is so open customers can easily see what we have. It takes time to keep everything clean, especially in the summer when the door's open, but I think it's worth it.
Everyone is talking about
carbon footprints - what do you do
to reduce yours?
We stock a lot of local products
that come direct from the producer, so we are reducing our drink miles. We have sparkling wines from Ridgeview, which is less than 10 miles away, and we
stock two still wines from Nutbourne, which is also in West Sussex. Our ales are
all local, from Hepworth's in Horsham. I hardly ever throw any cardboard boxes out, because they are usually re-used to put customers' orders in, and any empty bottles from tastings go in the recycling bin.
1 Sañador range (Malbec and Chenin Blanc) £3.75 or three for £10
2 Poco Mas range (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) £4.75
3 Rioja Vega Crianza £6.95
4 La Ferme St Pierre, Cuvée V éronique, Côtes du Ventoux £7.95
5 Château Val Joanis £8.75