Davenport direct

18 April, 2008

The findings of HIM's SOLTrack survey provide a

much needed vote of confidence for retailers. While the survey does not claim to be reflective of the entire market, it certainly offers valuable insights.

In many high street stores, there's no guarantee

of any eye contact, let alone a "hello" , so for customers to give off-licences an average rating of 94% for staff friendliness is a ringing endorsement.

Who doesn't appreciate a bit of courtesy when handing over their hard-earned cash? Customers also clearly appreciate a bit of advice, with 84% believing staff to be knowledgeable about the products on offer.

Such positive feedback is rare in other industries, and suggests many avenues which off-licences of all types should exploit. When you're in such a trusted position, the possib ilities for hand-selling more expensive wines and trading consumers up to premium beers are there for the taking.

There's hope yet

Licensing minister Gerry Sutcliffe did not pull any punches when

given the chance to comment on Alistair Darling's disastrous Budget.

Suggesting the trade might be able to convince the

Chancellor to drop

his pledge to increas e duty by 2% above the rate of inflation for the next four years might have landed him in hot water, but it

certainly offered a glimmer of hope.

It suits Sutcliffe to be seen

on the side of the industry, and it's useful to feel there's someone in parliament willing to champion our cause. But what happens now is up to us. Whether or not any attempts to change Darling's mind on the issue are successful, Sutcliffe's comments could open the door for a thorough discussion about the role of duty.

The British

Beer &

Pub Association has long argued against the logic of duty, claiming that, despite its consistent hikes, the revenue government now takes from beer alone is significantly down year on year. With soaring raw material costs

and currency fluctuations, all with VAT on top , Sutcliffe has given the industry a welcome platform to start the debate.

Good to have you on board

Harnessing the power of social networking sites has been a hot topic among marketers , so hats off to Pernod Ricard, which is using Facebook

in its responsible drinking campaign. Encouraging consumers to take

responsibility for their actions in an environment where they feel comfortable

is crucial

in tackling the issue . With Diageo having led the way , the additional might of Pernod Ricard as well†as Bacardi is a very welcome contribution.

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Is blended Scotch overshadowed by single malt in retailers?

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