Holter on the loose

27 July, 2007

Castel makes right decision in taking personal approach to estate changes

Whatever anyone thinks of Castel's policy of rebranding Oddbins branches as Nicolas stores, sales director Andy Gadsby should be applauded for embarking on a tour of the country to explain the situation to his managers, one by one.

Castel's plans are contentious

and driven by some

tough trading conditions. Explaining them by e-mail is not good enough - especially if you credit your managers with having intelligent, enquiring minds.

Too often in these situations, shop staff are left to fume and hatch conspiracy theories while ineffective head office people botch the communication process. Well done to Gadsby for having t he courtesy, and the guts, to front up to his


I'd walk a million miles ...

Our environmental feature on pages 44 and 45 has some advice for retailers who want to take a greener approach to retailing. Unfortunately, we work in a trade where some of the most popular products have to be shipped in from Australia, New Zealand and Chile and there is no Star Trek transporter system to get them to us.

One of the biggest challenges for our sector is reducing "drink miles". Wouldn't it be great if more off-licences sold local beer - there are so many good microbreweries now that almost everyone is within striking distance of a reliable supplier.

I would certainly travel a great distance to give my custom to a retailer which brewed its own beer on the premises. But maybe that would defeat the object.

Booze taxes up, government income down

There is a lot of chit-chat in the media about higher taxation on alcohol. The "debate" normally involves a self-proclaimed expert explaining, pretty much unchallenged, how making booze expensive will cut down on problem drinking.

Maybe, maybe not, but one thing is for sure: put up duty on alcohol beyond a certain level and the government's income goes down.

People don't necessarily drink less, but they do start buying from overseas and, more worryingly, from illegal sources.

Not training is a false economy

Almost a third of small retail firms can't afford to train their staff. Presumably these are businesses that also can't afford to lose

customers to the supermarket down the road, can't afford to subsist on sales of £3.49 wine and also can't afford to fail test purchases.


these are more likely if you don't train your staff. It's a false economy to take short

cuts with training, though I appreciate that some stores have such a high turnover of staff that they think they could

waste good money

by training up a part-timer who will be off to a new job in a few months.

I would suggest that, if you invest in your employees and allow them to take on new skills and responsibilities,

they will tend to stay around for longer.

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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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Is blended Scotch overshadowed by single malt in retailers?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Don't know