Haydn Hicks runs the award-winning Bargain Booze Select Convenience in Ulverston, Cumbria, and has now added Wine Racks in Ripon and Skipton in North Yorks and the Roundhay district of Leeds.
All three were previously Rhythm & Booze outlets. They are the first fruits of a franchise recruitment drive for the upmarket wine format since it was bought by Conviviality from Venus Wine & Spirit Merchants a year ago.
Chief executive Diana Hunter told OLN that Conviviality was also looking to open the second in its BB’s Warehouse drinks superstore format before Christmas.
She said the first was performing “in line with expectations” and added: “It’s early days but we’re very pleased with reaction from customers and the industry.
“We want to try it at another location to give us a comparison and I hope that will be before Christmas but we haven’t identified exactly when or where it will be.”
The first BB’s Warehouse opend in July in Wakefield in a former Rhythm & Booze branch, offering parking, try-before-you-buy and over 400 wines out of a total product range of 800.
Hunter said: “It’s more of destination shop for people buying for a party or who have people visiting for the weekend. It’s great concept but much more destination that passing trade. It seems to be working and we are getting more cases sales at Wakefield.”
Hunter said there were unlikely to be any other retail concepts joining the Conviviality stable.
“I’d never say never but there’s nothing else for now,” she said. “We think the portfolio we’re building will give our franchisees every option they need to grow their business.”
Hunter said there were “a lot of conversations going on” with other potential Wine Rack franchisees, both with existing Bargain Booze retailers and individuals who would be new to the business.
She added that Amanda Jones, who joins Conviviality as chief operating officer in December, will lead the franchisee recruitment process.
“She is the last of the key management changes we needed to make,” said Hunter. “We worked together at Waitrose so I know her well. Her responsibilities will extend across logistics, all franchised and company-owned stores and new recruitment.”
Hunter also said that Martin Swaine, the former Rhythm & Booze owner who joined the Bargain Booze fold in late 2012 is no longer working for the group in a consultancy capacity but was still involved as a franchisee.