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Accolade Wines' chief calls on drinks trade to unite

Published:  27 November, 2012

Accolade Wines' UK head Paul Schaafsma has joined the call for the drinks industry to present a united front...

Accolade Wines' UK head Paul Schaafsma has joined the call for the drinks industry to present a united front over its importance to the overall British economy when lobbying government.

He said the alcohol industry as a whole needed to do more to demonstrate its economic importance and role as a major employer when campaigning against further potentially "crippling" duty increases and government legislation.

He pointed to research in Accolade's new comprehensive trade business report, WineNation, that the drinks industry as a whole is worth £37.6 billion - the equivalent to Croatia's total GDP or the 65th largest country in the world. Wine alone is worth £9.4 billion, the equivalent of Jamaica's GDP.

"This is a massive industry which is very important to the UK. We have to work hard to protect it," he argued.

But the drinks industry, and wine in particular, faces a dangerous future in light of competition from other key emerging markets, like the US, China or Brazil, and rising supply chain and oil costs.

It was vital, Schaafsma stressed, the industry did more together to battle back against successive duty increases - where 80% of all price increases in wine are due to tax - and there were real concerns over what might replace the duty escalator when its initial timeframe ends in 2014/15.

He admitted Accolade, as the UK's largest wine company, could and should do more in making the drinks industry's case. He said he planned to work closely with all the major drinks bodies to present a united front, but vitally provide live trade data, like that contained in its WineNation report, to ensure the industry was armed with the facts to make the best possible case.

He said its data demonstrated the drinks intervention legislation introduced in Scotland, for example, has not the impact its supporters said it would. The ban on multibuy promotions had seen close to a zero impact and not the 8% predicted by academics at Sheffield University.

It was this kind of data the trade needs to make more effective use of when lobbying the government, urged Schaafsma.

Accolade's WineNation report covers key consumer trends data and wine shopping behavioural trends. It highlighted the growing importance of the convenience sector in selling wine. Its research showed that the average basket spend was three times higher in convenience when it included wine, which jumps to six times higher in grocery multiple c-stores.

Accolade hopes to grow wine sales in the independent and cash and carry sectors through its Winning With Wine category management advice programme.