Holter on the loose

20 April, 2007

When it comes to packaging size does matter

As a trade we perhaps ought to get out a bit more - we tend to get very excited about ideas that would be shrugged at in other categories. Selling wine in 50cl bottles is hardly groundbreaking compared to the product innovation and brand extensions you see in, say, confectionery. Yet it's almost revolutionary for wine marketers to come up with this sort of packaging.

I'm sure the big brands would absolutely love retailers to stock bag-in-box, 75cl, 50cl and 25cl versions of their blockbuster wines, and arguably there is demand for all these pack sizes.

But in the beer category there is growing concern about the proliferation of SKUs - retailers are asking if it's really worth stocking every conceivable size, or whether some ought to be dropped to make way for other brands.

The 50cl size has its appeal, but I'm alarmed to hear it's supposedly ideal for two to share. Personally I fight for every scrap of my half of a standard 75cl bottle - but then we are living in enlightened times.

Wine Cellar faces big challenges

Wine Cellar has reached another crossroads with the departure of Paul Gaskell as managing director. His legacy is a streamlined, more focused business with some good retail formats - but it's still, sad to say, losing money, according to recent accounts.

Where does it go from here? The good news is that the Jebreel family are proud retailers and are apparently keen to instal a new leader to pursue the ambitions they have for the business, including new store openings. They face some considerable challenges and the next leader will need time, skill and good luck to overcome them all. But, with an understanding and patient owner, who knows what could be achieved.

Beware the 48-hour closure trap

The legal aspects of drinks retailing assume a humdrum monotony after a while and it's perhaps not surprising that licensees get confused or indeed bored by the detail. But it's vital that everyone involved in the sale of alcohol understands the full implications of the Violent Crime Reduction Act.

I'd suggest that Peter Coulson's assessment of the 48-hour closure powers that we publish on page 12 is likely to be far more useful than anything you're going to get from your local constabulary. Read it carefully and ask your staff to do the same. Forewarned is forearmed and that alternative could be a £10,000 fine and a three-month ban from selling alcohol.

Is 21 the key to a better working life?

Should the legal drinking age be raised to 21? It seems bizarre to allow adults to drink, smoke, procreate and serve in the armed forces but not buy a can of Carling. Yet I suspect many battle-weary drinks retailers would secretly settle for such a breach of human rights if it meant less aggravation from teen drinkers. Who wants to add National Service to our list of demands?

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English wine: a happy harvest for Christmas

All across England and Wales, vineyards are being harvested. Down winding country lanes come armies of welly-wearing conscripts wielding secateurs and buckets, ready to reap the rewards of our vines. Happily they come, their cheeks ruddy with pride. Half an hour later they’re crawling over muddy clods with lacerated hands, drenched in claggy juice and cold sweat, as if ploughing through an endurance race.

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Is blended Scotch overshadowed by single malt in retailers?

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