An award-winning wine retailer has sold one of his two branches to the Thresher Group, which is thought to be courting independent merchants in its quest for new Wine Rack sites.
Off the Vine, named
Retailer of the
Year in 2005 in OLN's Drinks Retailing Awards, agreed a deal for its Hove branch and is now concentrating its efforts on its store in West Wickham, Kent.
Thresher is said to be talking to some successful independents about acquiring their stores as part of its expansion of Wine Rack. As well as benefiting from the goodwill it takes on, the company can save time and money on fixtures and fittings as some stores are already well equipped with air conditioning, CCTV and display equipment.
Off the Vine owner Piers Hamilton said: "The shop was doing brilliantly but the offer was too good to refuse.
It was a 100-mile commute anyway that I didn't really need."
Off the Vine once had a shop in St Albans, which was closed because it was deemed to be in the wrong position.
Hamilton said independent wine merchants who were positioned in a good location and offered the right product mix still had a bright future, despite the economic downturn.
"There is a slowdown, but wine is pretty much in good health," he said. "Guys that are majoring on smaller independent producers and doing something different are doing OK.
"But if you're sticking with the same old branded stuff it's going to be quite difficult. You've got to be a destination. But it's also down to position and being in the right catchment area. I think restaurants are finding it a lot harder."