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Bottle Green's on-trade arm going from 'strength to strength'

Published:  06 March, 2014

Bottle Green's on-trade and independent division is going from "strength to strength" - accounting for one third of business in just two years.

In April 2012, with the acquisition of Discovery Wines, the company started up a division catering solely to on-trade and independents called Bottle Green Wines.

Richard Hitchcock, marketing and operations director at Bottle Green, told "It has gone from strength to strength. Bottle Green Wines has really paid off. It's great to have a new profit stream and spread your customer base."

In April it will launch a revised range of wines and Hitchcock said: "We are determined that our range will be completely exclusive to the on-trade and independents." To that end Bottle Green Wines offers ex-cellar products, as well as brands and Bottle Green own brands. It has over 200 wines, around half of which are stocked in the UK. "We haven't got 1,000 wines, we're not Enotria or Bibendum and we don't plan to be."

It has 200 on-trade and independent accounts, and operates through a network of regional wholesalers and brewers across the UK. So far the Bottle Green Wines side of the business has grown 80% year-on-year.  

The company will return to London Wine Fair this year, this time solely as Bottle Green Wines.

As for the remaining two thirds of the business, Bottle Green, which supplies the off-trade, it has focused on a "major producer acquisition" in the last two years. It has attempted to plug gaps in its portfolio to ensure it has as comprehensive a list as possible. "We're not a collector of names - we like to be exclusive. We don't like to have five Loire producers, but one partner. In the last six to 12 months we've brought on significant new suppliers."

The company has boosted its French offering to the extent that it required five tables at France Under One Roof last week. "We've got massive coverage in France," Hitchcock said, as well as adding to its Italian, Portuguese and Spanish offerings.

"While the off-trade still has the biggest share of the business, the on-trade and independents is growing hot on its heels."

"To be relevant you have to have breadth of supply, distribution and customer base. Agents and importers who can only offer entry level or own label or one country - this market will be very tough for them."

Bottle Green has been owned by DCC, the Irish based sales, marketing and support services group, since 2004, whose most recent turnover was €13 billion. "That's the scale of backing we've got," said Hitchcock.

The company is very active on new product development, and is working in partnership with Australia's Andrew Peace - who has worked with the firm for over 12 years - on new ideas such as its recently launched Swan Hill range. It is also finding that retailers are "finally starting to seize the opportunity" for wine-based drinks, spritzers and lower alcohol products, which it is working on.

Bottle Green has 23 staff and is based in Leeds, West Yorkshire.