26 January, 2007

Keep being nosy

May I remind everyone in and around the wine trade that we are fast approaching Wine Relief time, and ask as many individuals as possible to think about how they can contribute?

This biennial wine trade fundraising programme has raised a total of £2 million since 1999 for the seriously disadvantaged in the UK and Africa and has established itself as one of Comic Relief's most admired trade initiatives.

This year the fundraising period starts in early February and culminates in Red Nose Day on Friday March 16. All the big retailers (with the exceptions of Oddbins and Asda) have already chosen their Wine Relief wines, from which 10 per cent of the retail price will go to Comic Relief's carefully managed long-term projects. Many thanks to all suppliers materially involved in this.

But the ethos of Comic Relief, which is actively supported by well over 60 per cent of the UK population, is that small contributions are every bit as welcome as the large ones.

We very much hope that as many wine professionals as possible will support Wine Relief, whether by sending their own contribution or, ideally, dreaming up their own fundraising scheme, of any sort. All funds raised should be sent, either as a cheque made out to Wine Relief (Comic Relief) and sent to Kate de Quidt, Comic Relief, 89 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TP, or by logging on to where there will be a donation button.

Incidentally, Wine Relief is an entirely different cause from the trade's own very deserving Benevolent Association. I support both and hope very much that others will too.

Jancis Robinson MW

Join the club

In reply to Alan Dunn's letter in the Jan 12 edition of OLN asking how the breweries support the independents , as a winner also of the Independent Beer Retailer in 2005, I agree totally with your comments. Especially being a retailer who bought direct through the 70s and 80s from the then seven major brewers.

We do get visits quite regularly from these brewers now, but it is mainly for their own purposes , such as checking prices and ranges.

Our answer was to become a member of EFB/Whittalls Wines 1 Stop 4 retail club, which is now called Drinks to Go. Over the past six years we have had fantastic retail prices , multipacks, new products, and specials on 44cl and 56.8cl formats. Besides the usual free glasses, T-shirts and baseball hats, we've given away mountain bikes, TVs, fridges and barbecues in the monthly consumer draws.

I get all this without any forelock tugging or begging.

John Mitchell


Fight back for commission

Just before Christmas I received a letter from O2 via Alphyra explaining that our commission for mobile top-ups is going to be cut - yet again - by 0.5 per cent. That will reduce our commission to 2.9 per cent. Why on earth are we bothering? We are working for less POR than we do selling cigarettes and tobacco. It's worse with electric and gas top-ups, from which we receive 0.005 per cent. Come on people, get real. How can anybody be expected to make any money from those kinds of figures. The companies make it sound like they are doing us a favour by bringing people into our shops, but when you consider that it costs us money to run the top-up machines, we're the ones paying them.

What we need to do - all of us that is, not just a handful, not just a group of us but all of us, all over the country, nationwide - is unplug our terminals for two days. If customers complain, simply say that our terminals have broken.

Then we will see who is doing who the favour and I'll bet most of us would save money doing it. Then we need to negotiate a better commission level, say 12 per cent, which still isn't very much but it's better than working for nothing.

But we all need to do it now, before they go any further! Who's in favour? Anybody interested, get in touch with me on 01524 414998.

B Phillipson

Christie Park Stores


No thanks for seasonal efforts

Threshers must be one of the Scrooges of Christmas.

I am a sales assistant from a very profitable shop. The two weeks of the 40 per cent discount vouchers were manic. We all really worked very hard, then just getting over that we had the Christmas rush.

What did we get for our efforts? An e-mail thanking us for our hard work in the 60 per cent increase in sales and a Christmas card to all of the staff at the branch, signed by some people we've never heard of - not even a bottle of wine between us for a Christmas drink.

A very disappointed Thresher

sales assistant

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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.

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