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Richard Siddle, comment: August 12, where do you stand on a supplier's charter?

Published:  12 August, 2011

 

"There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees." We can thank the French Renaissance writer Michel de Montaigne for that nice turn of phrase, but it certainly sums up the reaction to Jamie Hutchinson of The Sampler's call in our last issue of Harpers for a supplier's charter when dealing with independent retailers.

"There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees." We can thank the French Renaissance writer Michel de Montaigne for that nice turn of phrase, but it certainly sums up the reaction to Jamie Hutchinson of The Sampler's call in our last issue of Harpers for a supplier's charter when dealing with independent retailers.

Hutchinson's views have split opinion within the trade.

In a nutshell Hutchinson, and other merchants, believe suppliers that say they committed to the independent sector need to promise full exclusivity of the wines they offer. If they do not they risk being delisted.

Hence the need, in their view, for a supplier's charter to ensure standards of service are maintained.

On the face of it you might say fair enough. But what this stance has exposed are the differences in opinion within the trade of what an independent wine merchant is.

Who under any suppliers' charter would qualify as an independent wine merchant? Can you be an independent wine merchant if you are an exclusively online player? Can you only be an independent if you have a retail store? And if so how many stores can you have before you become a multiple specialist.


This is a sensitive area and one, with the increase of suppliers looking to service independents, the trade needs to confront.

It is an issue Harpers is happy to address as part of our Top Merchants programme. If it helps our definition of a Top Merchant is one that is essentially a retail business which may also run wholesale and online operations.

But we appreciate the lines can become blurred.

So where do you stand? Over the coming weeks we want to bring the various sides together to discuss the issue further face to face, through the pages of Harpers, and here at www.harpers.co.uk.

If you would like to share your views or take part in a live debate please contact me at Richard.siddle@wrbm.com.

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