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Stevens Garnier sells wholesale and retail business to SH Jones

Published:  03 February, 2014

Stevens Garnier has sold its Oxford wholesale and retail business to SH Jones Wines.

Stevens Garnier and SH JonesRichard Jones and Matt DouglasL-R Richard Jones of SH Jones Wines and Matt Douglas of Stevens Garnier

SH Jones becomes Stevens Garnier's key customer in the region, but from today, the wholesale operations of both companies will be merged and SH Jones will take over the day to day management of the business.

SH Jones is on the acquisition trail, having bought online firms Hawkshead and in the last year.

Matt Douglas, Stevens Garnier's managing director, told Harpers it had decided to move out of being a wholesaler, and found the "best" people to work with were "next door" in Banbury, which meant the sale was "pretty straightforward". As Stevens Garnier is owned by winery group Sogrape, Douglas said that being a branded winery, importer, agent and distributor was enough and that it "didn't want to be a wholesaler too".

Douglas said Stevens Garnier is still planning on bringing on agencies from Australia, France and Italy, and other areas where it doesn't own wineries. He added that it would be much easier to sell to the wholesale trade, as it already did outside of Oxfordshire, without being a competitor. "In the next 12 months we'll be introducing quite a number of key brands and products. Some are all but signed and others are still coming. It's a core requirement of ours. We've got the marketing and sales capabilities."

Some of the brands will be relevant for wholesale or multiple, he said, adding that it will be concentrating on larger-scale on-trade in the future

SH Jones chairman Richard Jones said the Stevens Garnier business fit very well with the geography and it is "right in the heart of our trading area", and helps with its "density of customers and improved customer service".  

"It was almost a no-brainer for us," he added. He said this business was "a lot easier" to integrate than either Hawkshead, acquired last January; or Slurp, bought in June. "It gives us more scale, which is always helpful," he added.

SH Jones has also taken on three members of the Stevens Garnier team to maintain service levels. "Customers will see the same faces in many cases," he said.

"The growth makes total sense. The range we stock will change and we may change some of our buying elsewhere, but otherwise it's business as usual."

As for the past year's purchases, Jones said the Hawshead business was performing "exactly on budget and in line with expectations". "It gives us expertise in that area, especially as previous owner Greg Shaw joined as general manager. It gave us the confidence to buy Slurp, a much bigger proposition. Slurp was well up on budget to Christmas and in January is 2.5 times over budget, which shows it's not just a Christmas phenomenon. The business has real potential for significant growth and makes SH Jones a national, if not international, company."

The Stevens Garnier retail outlet at Botley Road, Oxford will initially trade under its current name, "Grape Ideas," before moving to the SH Jones retail format.

Stevens Garnier has recently added to its wholesale portfolio with Domaine Vacheron from Sancerre, Aurora from Brazil, Alvi's Drift from Breede River South Africa and the Evans & Tate, Mount Pleasant and Barwang ranges from McWilliam's of Australia.