Given that the UK is looking at economic challenges, that millennials are rumoured not to drink nearly as much as us baby boomers, that Sterling weakness and widespread climactic problems are pushing up prices, that margins are being challenged by consolidation and buying power in the trade, WHY is it that there are so many small to medium sized wine retailers and merchants still performing well and finding new business despite the challenges?
It could of course be that these businesses are not actually thriving, but if not, they are being replaced or bought up by others who want to give it a go. It could be that many of the smaller businesses are hobbyists who just love wine and the pleasure it gives to so many. Or it could be that wine is a complex product and that, should a customer want to buy wine for any reason other than creating a warm alcoholic glow after a couple of glasses, he or she will want to know about the product, what food it suits, what style it is, how a vintage might vary and so on. These customers want assurance from someone they trust and, as in days gone by, they can find that from independent retailers and merchants whose primary interest is to ensure that they, the customers, have made a good and informed choice. That way the customer is happy and he or she will return.
In all communities there are people who enjoy wine and there are many who enjoy it all the more if they can have a chat about it with someone they trust, maybe even trying it before they buy. Perhaps that is why the number of independents seems to still be on the rise.
What good news.
Hugh Sturges is Managing Director of Jeroboams.