09 February, 2007

THIS WEEK: alLan cheesman finds own-label uninspiring

Wine's 'holy grail' has lost its allure

I share the collective concern of all who are passionate about our industry over the sets of numbers that are coming out of ACNielsen - no volume growth, minimal value growth, brand stagnation and all the other headlines that we read .

I suppose I become even more dismayed when the current "movers and shakers" (I am long banished as a muppet to the balcony, by the way) go on about the role of own-label on their shelves - lots of puff but often not a lot of substance.

I know I shouldn't say it, but in my day own-label/BOB or whatever you cared to call it was the real pride and joy of the trading team - it was the point of difference that you could offer and generated the pioneer spirit that I believe moved the UK trade, and supermarkets in particular, to world beaters.

It didn't do too badly for the bottom line either, in those days.

What I see today as I patrol the aisles of our high street is a rather mediocre offering of dull generics purchased by internet auction or tender, offered at the now entrenched price points that some mythical price-point fixer in the sky has decreed and offering to that retailer a nice fat gross but little else . You won't win Wine Challenge medals with that lot.

I hear from suppliers who listened to the mantra of partnership and collaboration that the buyers today renege on deals, re negotiate in mid-deal and frankly have no other vision than next week's sales and profit numbers. Maybe I am being cynical, but I believe and always have that the way to a genuine own-label business is to work closely with the supplier, not to be in business to put them out of business.

Retailers should genuinely share ideas , innovations and the whole business proposition. Otherwise, Mr/Mrs Buyer, you will not get any investment in projects from your suppliers.

I am scathing, I confess, as there are some brighter lights. Some Tesco Finest and Sainsbury's Taste the Difference products are good and well-sourced, but again I hear that the 15 or 25-year-old relationship in which that supplier has worked diligently can be thrown aside on the whim of a young buyer who has only learned where Bordeaux was from his/her school atlas.

Anyhow enough of the rantings and a plea: own-label is a unique UK proposition. It can and does win loyalty from suppliers and customers - do not squander that holy grail. It makes that genuine point of difference and gives a sense of achievement to the team when well done, gains column inches and makes you all feel proud!

Bookmark this

Site Search


English wine: a happy harvest for Christmas

All across England and Wales, vineyards are being harvested. Down winding country lanes come armies of welly-wearing conscripts wielding secateurs and buckets, ready to reap the rewards of our vines. Happily they come, their cheeks ruddy with pride. Half an hour later they’re crawling over muddy clods with lacerated hands, drenched in claggy juice and cold sweat, as if ploughing through an endurance race.

Click for more »
Upcoming events


Is blended Scotch overshadowed by single malt in retailers?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Don't know