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

Beer: Cheers to Brazil

06 November, 2015

Not everything is quite what it seems. Sitting at a terrace table, taking in mountain views, surrounded by thesort of buildings you see dripping with snow on Christmas cards, it would be easy to think you were in Switzerland or southern Germany. The truth is you are some 6,000 miles away. This is not alpine Europe but Latin America, more precisely a town in Brazil just a couple of hours’ drive from the teeming metropolis of São Paulo.

Sparkling Wine: Bubbling Under

06 November, 2015

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

In the enlightened society we live in, it goes without saying that we want our wines to be made by happy, decently paid workers living in sustainable communities where their children can be educated and they get the health and social care they need. Or does it?

There’s no denying the seismic effects Aldi’s inexorable rise – and its growing focus on wine – have had on drinks retailing in general and the big four supermarkets in particular.

It would be overstating things to suggest that Conviviality Retail’s acquisition of Matthew Clark is a game-changer for the drinks industry, but there’s no question that it has catapulted the company previously known only as the owner of Bargain Booze and related brands into a new era.

Satirical website the Daily Mash has invented a spoof academy, the Institute for Studies, to provide expert comment for its fictional reports. It probably wasn’t inspired by the Institute for Alcohol Studies, but it does say something about the media’s craving for a white-coated boffin to shore up their stories.

As the economy finds its feet again and UK consumers start to loosen their purse strings a little, drinks suppliers and retailers are looking forward to an exciting Christmas, with fingers crossed all round for bumper sales.

At Christmas, one must quote Cliff Richard. And as Sir Cliff so correctly informed us in his 1988 number one Mistletoe & Wine, “it’s a time for giving”.

The forecast is in – and it looks like the cider market is going to be cloudy this autumn.

Vermouth: A Bond Revived

08 October, 2015

Shaken or stirred, vermouth is the drink to be seen with this season.

Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.” Those were the immortal words of Doc Brown to Marty McFly, as he powered up the flux capacitor and headed from 1985 to October 21, 2015, in Back to the Future Part II.

Sales of premium wine are soaring in multiple grocers and struggling convenience stores are in danger of being left behind, new data has revealed.

Restraint is not a word readily associated with the USA, the land of Man v Food, Muscle Beach and skyscrapers galore.

What about Cava?

10 September, 2015

The past few years have seen Cava passed over like the ugly step-sister to Prosecco’s Cinderella, looking on while Italy’s flavour-of-the-decade fizz goes from strength to strength.

Think Halloween is just for children and Americans? Think again. As the spookiest season of the year approaches, eerie events, terrifying tours and frightening festivals are creeping up all over the country — and the potential to boost profits is petrifying.

Bartending experience gained when he was an anthropology student propelled Nick Bell into the world of drinks retailing.

Drinks companies are fighting hard to keep their products on supermarket shelves as grocers refocus on brands that are core to consumers in the BWS aisle.

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Hofmeister may need more than the bear essentials to succeed

So, George The Bear is back. It’s hard for some of us oldies to fathom, but there are those under, say, 40 who can’t actually remember Hofmeister and feel the cultural jolt supplied by the return of both the bear and the beer whose marketing campaigns it used to front.

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Is blended Scotch overshadowed by single malt in retailers?

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