Trading director Lloyd Stephens said: “Three-for-two was successful in 2005, but over time we have seen like-for-like decline in a growing market, and customers say single-bottle pricing is too expensive. We will be reintroducing proper promotions.” Single-bottle prices are to be lowered as three-for-two is cut back.
The move is part of a general overhaul of the business in the wake of its acquisition by private equity firm Vision Capital last June.
Wine Rack’s True Blue concept will be rolled out to cover 370 existing Wine Rack and Threshers shops, with 100 new stores to be added over the next four years.
Threshers will be repositioned to appeal to “mid-market urbanites” who generally use the shop for opportunistic purchases, with a brand-led wine range.
The Local will become a drinks-led convenience store with a wine range at “accessible” price points and some 200 convenience SKUs. Another 100 stores will be opened in the format.
The Scottish business – which currently has 220 shops in a number of formats, including some Threshers, Victoria Wine and 107 Haddows – was up for sale but has now been taken off the market. Thresher Group is doing customer research into the estate with a view to repositioning it, and some shops will become Wine Racks.
Thresher will close underperforming or badly positioned shops across the business, slimming the current 1,600 estate down to around 1,500 stores.
The group has recruited a marketing director, Vibha Hardaker, and will be stepping up its marketing activity – TV, radio, press and leaflet ads could all be part of the plan.
A distribution deal with Christian Salvesen will give Thresher the logistics to sell online. A fully transactional Wine Rack website is to launch this summer, with a Threshers site to follow. The group will also be working with its 130 franchisees to help them develop online sales.
The company’s much-publicised franchise scheme was put on hold pretty much as soon as new chief executive Yvonne Rankin joined the business in September, and will remain on hold for another year before Thresher decides what to do with it.
Thresher will also invest in staff training, and workers will be rewarded for excellent customer service through a bonus scheme, assessed by mystery shoppers. Thresher has also pledged to make sure communication within the company is strong.