Managing director Baile told OLN: “Trading-wise we’re slightly down on last year but I feel we are outperforming the market.”
He blamed the economic downturn for Oddbins’ failure to hit the targets he made when he bought the business a year ago.
“I was hoping we were going to be breaking even in the first 12 months but then we flew into recession,” he said. “We’re not far away from where we need to be and everyone is focusing on what’s important after seeing other businesses around us collapse. It’s made everyone see you’ve got to have a really tight business.
“We are making fantastic progress and have got a business we can be proud of. We’re getting to that point where confidence has been raised inside and outside the business. It’s a world of difference from where the shops were a year ago.”
Baile said he was looking into opening new shops but had no solid plans for this year. The retailer has closed two stores, one on the outskirts of Reading and the other in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Previously mooted plans to move shops away from the high street have been put on hold because they are no longer needed in the current climate, Baile said. “Landlords aren’t so greedy at the moment. If they don’t have a tenant now they’ll probably not have one for some time so there aren’t the same rent pressures.”
He said the next challenge was getting people to understand that Oddbins has got great products.
“If I’d said that a year ago I’d have been lying, things were a bit tedious. But now as a wine lover I can go in for two or three bottles and come out with a box. I take a lot of pleasure in that.”
The company has its first in-store tastings coming up soon, where around 20-25 wines will be on show in every shop across the estate. Christmas will bring “signature tastings”, in which Baile hopes three or four stores will get together to show off around 40-60 wines.