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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jack Hibberd

New World specialist Vinoceros has assumed control' of Laymont & Shaw, its Iberian-focused Cornish neighbour, in a move that highlights the growing strain on small independent wine merchants. The long-term plan is to retain Laymont & Shaw as a separate company,' said Nick Richards, Vinoceros's managing director. In essence it will become the Old World arm of Vinoceros, but there are no plans to merge the two companies.' The current staff at Truro-based Laymont & Shaw will remain, with no redundancies planned. Robert Boutflower will remain as managing director, current chairman John Hawes will sit on the board and the rest of the Laymont & Shaw team will remain unchanged. Boutflower said that things are getting increasingly difficult for companies the size of Laymont & Shaw and that consolidation such as this was becoming inevitable: The market is getting tougher and tougher and margins are getting smaller and smaller. We are swimming harder, but the current is getting stronger. The Vinoceros deal represents a fantastic opportunity for us. Sales of the wines we represent are going very well and we have incredibly loyal customers. But we don't have the size to do the big deals with the supermarkets.' Richards added: We want to help the company to develop its potential while respecting and preserving its unique identity. The combined strength of our two companies is considerable, with complementary portfolios and distribution between us giving us penetration through all sectors of the market.' Richards pointed out that its new partner had never had dedicated national account managers, which Vinoceros does, and that Laymont & Shaw's strong presence in the independent sector would open new avenues for Vinoceros's premium portfolio. The news of the Cornish companies' link-up comes hot on the heels of Berry Bros & Rudd's purchase of Morris & Verdin.