Small chain manages a broad reach
Published:  23 March, 2007

Profile: Tanners Wine Merchants

Shrewsbury, Hereford, Bridgenorth and Welshpoo

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Tanners' small chain of shops may be mainly in the west of England, but the business also operates nationally as a wholesaler and sells to customers throughout the UK via its well-established website.

It is a 165-year-old business which, according to private sales director Robert Boutflower, experienced some tough times during the 1970s and 1980s. Tanners turned its fortunes around by reducing the number of stores from 23 to four.

Now the company has a turnover of £20 million, employs more than 100 people and has some 2,000 wholesale customers.

Boutflower said: "We are a good general wine merchant . I think we try to do things properly and have managed to get ourselves into a position of strength. We're outside London but we're not the country cousin."

Tanners stocks more than 1,300 different wines and a full range of spirits. Boutflower said the company has more flexibility with the wines it stocks because it does not act as an agent for any particular producer.

He said: "It means we can buy the very best wines we can get our hands on and gives us the chance to buy what we and our customers want."

One of the most important aspects of Tanners' business is staff education. Boutflower said: "We believe all our staff should be interested and knowledgeable in the wines they are selling."

Six of the company's staff are currently studying for their diploma and each month one of the buyers or sales directors holds a meeting with staff to tell them first-hand about the new wines they have chosen to stock.

Boutflower added: "The supermarkets have done such a good job of getting people switched on to wine, but we're saying you get the question and answer session here too." Emma Eversham




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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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