Wine bar concept for ex-Nicolas shops

01 October, 2010

The new owner of the former Nicolas estate outside the M25 wants to introduce a wine bar concept to the chain.

Benoit Thouvenin, owner of Spirited Wines – which has bought 15 shops outside London from Nicolas owner Castel – told OLN his long-term plan was to create something similar to Nicolas’s successful shop-cum-wine bar in Canary Wharf, which he joined the company to set up.

Thouvenin, who left Castel to create Spirited Wine, is still running the Canary Wharf operation as well – “a little bit like a joint venture”, he explained.

“It has been going for 10 years and is successful in Canary Wharf. Because I have been running the business for 10 years I know it upside down,” he said.

“In future I will do that double concept in the areas I want to grow. It could be close to an existing location – next door, for example, or it could be a new location with the concepts together.

“The future for me is to try to have a concept mixing on and off-licence. But that is the really long-term strategy,” he added.

Thouvenin is running the 15 stores he took over as Nicolas franchises until early January, and has not yet decided on a name for the new chain, although Spirited Wine is a possibility.

He is planning to extend Nicolas’s French-only range with wines from Spain, Italy and the New World, and beyond wine with beers and spirits made locally to the shops, which are mainly south and west of the M25, with a handful in north west England and four in Scotland.

Analysis, page 12

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