It’s easy to think that some of the UK’s most successful family-run drinks producers found fame slowly as consumers discovered the brands, and perhaps as each generation built on the foundations of the last.

Portugal: Off the beaten track

21 February, 2017

Wine-producing countries that fall outside of the top 10 might be out of the limelight but they can be ideal for independent wine merchants seeking value-for-money wines that are unlikely to be found in supermarkets. Portugal, which sits at number 11 in the UK off-trade, is a perfect example.

With the rise and rise of gin it’s no surprise a new wave of tonics is battling its way on to the shelves. Over the past year we’ve seen a number of premium brands entering the mixers sector, particularly in tonic water – a category which grew 12% last year compared with 2015, to £98 million (IRI). This compares with 5.2% for other mixers.

Tesco’s announcement that it intends to buy Booker could prove to be the food and drink retailing sector’s Brexit or Donald Trump moment. The high-ups in each business would have known it was coming, of course, but for the rest of us it was certainly something of a bolt from the blue – and for many in the mainstream drinks retailing arena it has the potential to prove as transformative as the two big political events that promise to reshape the world we live in.

he dramatic question “Is this the end of the Campaign for Real Ale?” was posed by the consumer organisation itself on the launch of its Revitalisation Project last March.

Concha y Toro believes it now owns more hectares under vine than anyone else on the planet, with 9,194ha in Chile, 1,142ha in Argentina and 468ha in California. It is a colossal player in the wine world, dwarfing all other South American producers, and its largest market is the UK.

Making more of France

18 January, 2017

Although value sales continue to slide for French wines in the off-trade (down 2.5% in the year to October 2016, according to IRI data), the one time of year when it fares better than most is at Christmas. And early reports indicate the 2016 festive season was no exception, with many Britons seeking out and trading up to well-known names such as Chablis, Sancerre and Côtes du Rhône.

Formats: The future of cans

18 January, 2017

Not so long ago cider was all about ice, but now much of the buzz surrounding this category is about small, or craft, cans and other new formats. Of course, these are not limited to cider – beer is streets ahead when it comes to diversifying into 33cl cans, and it’s a trend that shows no sign of abating.

Core Objectives

18 January, 2017

There’s nothing stale about the cider category at the moment. In the past year we have seen the growth of craft canned cider as well as a concerted effort from producers to flag up the authenticity of their brands, ranging from highlighting traditional English apple varieties to pinpointing the actual orchard and apple grower.

Kiwi wine producers branch out

15 December, 2016

NZ is big in Sauvignon Blanc and growing in Pinot Noir, but it has plenty more up its sleeve, says Sonya Hook

Mont Ventoux has a special place in cycling folklore as its gruelling 6,273ft peak has overwhelmed some of the sport’s leading stars during the Tour de France.

Cider: ripe for growth

25 November, 2016

Britain has entered the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, the falling apples are ripe to the core and the cider presses are in full flow. Autumn is a time of change and it is easy to become overwhelmed by Keatsian wistfulness as you stroll through the Herefordshire countryside, taking in landscapes brimming with yellow, red and gold and breathing in the sweet scents.

Britain’s two most famous Davids recently visited the Cameronbridge distillery in eastern Scotland – former prime minister Cameron and former England captain, style icon and all-round superstar Beckham. It’s not hard to guess which one caused the off-duty female staff to come into work simply to catch a glimpse. Beckham has regularly been voted the world’s best looking man, while Cameron has been described as a “slightly camp gammon robot… a C3PO made of ham”.

Consumers across the country must be overjoyed by the fact that gifting in alcohol is now a “thing”. Of course bottles of wine or whisky have always been popular gifts at Christmas, but other drinks are now making more of an effort to get in on the act through a combination of high-profile ads, POS activity or specialist gift packs.

Beer shops: A lot of bottle

15 November, 2016

The growing passion for packaged beer in the UK has opened up exciting opportunities for retailers.

UK gets a grape break

15 November, 2016

UK wine producers are celebrating an “exceptional” harvest, with many reporting 2016 shaping up to be a high quality vintage.

It's a transitional period for cider. The category is declining 2% each year yet the market has never seemed so dynamic. Meanwhile the level of commitment from producers - both in terms of marketing spend and NPD – is a clear indication that there’s money to be made from cider.

As the nights draw in and consumers take to home entertaining, new opportunities arise, says Sonya Hook:

Chile: Land of opportunity

23 September, 2016

Chile’s diversity of climate and terroir is wooing consumers to broaden their repertoire through its wine offering. Sonya Hook reports

A quick look at the IRI figures for the top 10 bestselling wine-producing countries in the UK retail trade reveals a stark trend: the Old World is taking a battering and the New World is surging.

Market leader Australia is growing, along with Chile, New Zealand and Argentina, but Italy, France, Spain and Germany are all in ongoing decline.

At first glance, the new store in the affluent Surrey town of Weybridge looks like any other local business, blending seamlessly into a high street frequented by multimillionaires, Chelsea footballers and other celebrities. But the once-derelict warehouse is actually the powerhouse behind the UK’s largest wine supplier, Accolade Wines, and the store in front is its first UK venture into bricks-and-mortar retailing.

Wine has always been an integral part of the Marks & Spencer proposition. It enjoys an exalted position, with producers clamouring to climb aboard its prized supplier podium. Wine accounts for a massive 85% of total BWS at the retailer, but BWS trading manager Gary Brooking and his team are also focused on developing the hitherto underperforming beers and spirits sector of the business. “We’re taking beer to a new level,” Brooking tells OLN. “We’re starting from a small base, but it’s a significant focus for us.” 

The apple may have originated in Kazakhstan – via the Garden of Eden, of course – but many countries have claimed it as their own: to our Gallic cousins it’s as French as a beret-clad man eating a brie baguette, while there is nothing more American than apple pie. But the English might just have them all trumped as an apple is as quintessentially English as cricket on a village green, The Archers, drinking tea, moaning about the weather and queuing in an orderly fashion. “Few autumnal pleasures outshine sinking your teeth into the blushing virgin flesh of a sweet, yet ever so subtly tart, English apple,” gushes The Telegraph in a recent homage to the fruit. No wonder Adam found it so tempting.

Every Wednesday, the Advertising Standards Authority releases a bulletin detailing complaints about breaches of its code of practice. One recent batch included false claims about amounts received in PPI agency cases, badly-worded nutrition information about a breakfast cereal and misleading details about the number of attendees at a festival that hadn’t happened yet.

Tequila, shots & shooters

15 August, 2016

If any drink can conjure up theatre, sunshine and fun then tequila must be one of the strongest contenders.A tray of tequila shots laced with salt and lemon wedges is a guaranteed way to kickstart a night out.

Alternative selections

14 July, 2016

Young people are driving the demand for craft beer and spirits and spending less on mainstream brands, and this is one of the main drivers behind the value growth in these two categories.

Prosecco is the perfect success story; Britons love it and the media loves to write about it.

Exotic fruity flavours continue to squeeze their way onto crowded cider shelves but are fans starting to lose interest?

Amid the deafening buzz gin has created in the past few years, it is easy to forget that vodka is by far the biggest spirits category in the UK.

Jay Wright runs one of the UK’s most successful online wine retailers, Virgin Wines, which has more than 120 staff, a turnover of £40 million and north of 200,000 customers.

The English wine industry will continue to flourish for many years as long as new producers uphold the dedication to quality that has made it world famous, according to a leading supplier. 

The Aldi beers, wines and spirits team is riding the crest of a wave this year. Knocking Waitrose off the podium as Best Supermarket in this year’s Drinks Retailing Awards, as well as scooping the top gongs for Multiple Wine Retailer of the Year and Drinks Buying Team of the Year, is worthy recognition for the sterling work the Aldi drinks team has been undertaking over the past couple of years.

The UK’s fascination with imported beer is nothing new but it definitely feels like it’s moved into a whole new phase in the past couple of years.

Most fathers welcome any excuse to enjoy a glass of their favourite tipple, but Father’s Day is one of the few occasions cemented in the calendar for dads to relax, guilt free.

The Co-operative Group’s BWS trading manager, Simon Cairns, has every reason to be in a bullish mood after the retailer increased its share of the wine market from 9.4% to 10% in the past year (Nielsen). It is the first time the Co-op has ever been in double digits and Cairns says this is just the start.

Solid as a Rioja

11 April, 2016

Reading an Old World wine label elegantly can be a challenge for many Britons, particularly those who can’t boast a language GCSE on their CVs. But despite the fact that “Rioja” clearly has the potential to be pronounced incorrectly, it’s a word and a wine-producing region of Spain that UK consumers have confidently embraced in recent years.

Gin is on everyone's lips

11 March, 2016

A host of leading buyers, producers, bartenders and commentators from across the UK descended on the Hospital Club in London this month for a celebration of all things gin.

In the dog-eat-dog beer market off-licences are taking a bite out of the pub trade – thanks to the growler.

The Australian wine category will nosedive in a brave new retail world obsessed with everyday low pricing if it does not adapt and improve its average price point, according to Hardys supplier Accolade Wines.

Dry and high

21 January, 2016

After the excesses of December the UK has staggered bleary-eyed and pasty-faced into the driest month of the year.

Thought Austria was all about Grüner?

Has there ever been a better time to be a beer wholesaler?

Back to basics

10 November, 2015

The craft beer trend has woken consumers up to the delights of the brewing world with the taste explosions ofheavily hopped IPAs and the lighter touch of golden ales.

Home Brews

10 November, 2015

Brewers are finally coming to recognise the off-trade’s potential thanks to the craft beer phenomenon, expanding premium bottled ales ranges and an appetite for experimentation among buyers.

Both sides are claiming victory following the latest legal opinion from Luxemburg on the Scottish government’s bid to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol.

Inspiring Indies: Bier Huis

09 November, 2015

Former TV executive David Jones opened his beer shop in the West Yorkshire town of Ossett in November 2011, with the aim of giving beer fans a go-to store for northern brews where they could park easily.

With 2,600 shops across the UK, each designed to cater for its local market and be a community hub, Spar’s trading managers for wine, Nick Jones and Daphne Teremetz, have got their work cut out.

Cream of the crop

09 November, 2015

Christmas is all about creating an eclectic drinks cabinet, so retailers should ensure those indulgent and unusual cream liqueurs are clearly visible.

Many of the biggest names in BWS started at the bottom. They explain why it is so important to nurture new talent. Christine Boggis reports

Sparkling Wine: Bubbling Under

06 November, 2015

The juggernaut of fizzy popularity that is Prosecco is having another good year.

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What makes wine special

Reaching the 50th instalment of Hemming’s Way is hardly the biggest milestone, but I don’t need much of an excuse to pour myself a glass of champagne before getting dressed. It’s a better reason than I had for all 49 other instalments, anyway. Not that that stopped me.

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