Oddbins has promoted four sales heads to lead its business as it embarks on a large-scale restructure.
The chain is splitting into four wings, each designed to cater for a different type of consumer:
83 branches of "high street Nicolas", headed by former sales manager Philippe Scodelaro
66 branches of "high street Oddbins", headed by former sales manager for the north Simon Mason
47 branches of "bulk and large retail units", focusing on larger sales with an ongoing 20 per cent case discount, headed by former head of sales for the south Duncan Holburn
51 branches of "suburban Oddbins" - like "high street Oddbins" but in areas with less passing trade and a lower average spend - headed by Paul Manly.
Twenty-one shops will be shed over the coming year and three Nicolas were shut last year, human resources director Ayo Akintola and deputy managing director Eudes Morgan told OLN in an exclusive interview. The change is already underway and some stores should be rebranded by March.
Oddbins has restructured its buying operations to fit in with the new framework. An internal category manager and an external market analyst will examine the needs of customers in different sectors and regions, and use that to give wine buyers a brief o n what to buy.
But Akintola and Morgan stressed the Oddbins "magic" and its traditional focus on small parcels and unusual wines will not be lost.
Oddbins now has two buyers: Claire Graham (formerly Illingworth) and Julie Buckley. French wines will be bought by Nicolas buyer Alain Favereau.
Akintola said: "The days of high-profile individual personalities are gone and it is more about working as a team than there being an impression that there is only one person who represents Oddbins."
He is "confident" that the new structure will turn around Oddbins' ú8.7 million loss in 2006.