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Félix Solís plans for "sizeable" UK growth

Published:  15 April, 2014

Félix Solís has "ambitious growth plans" for the UK and will focus on its northern Spanish appellation wines, international varieties and core brands to deliver it.

Richard Cochrane, managing director of the firm's UK division told that its broad Spanish base, including wineries and vineyard holdings, means it can offer roughly 80% of what supermarkets are looking for from Spain. Given that it can deliver own and exclusive labels as well as brands, "it's a good combination" for buyers, he said. The brand is also looking to add Chilean wine and Spanish sparkling wine to its offer.

The UK is "top of the podium" for the Spanish wine giant, accounting for almost 10% of group turnover with sales of 20 million bottles, and 55% of exports.

In the UK, Félix Solís accounts for one in four bottles and has an average price point of around £4, but Cochrane expects that to hit £5 by this time next year.

Richard CochraneRichard CochraneRichard Cochrane, UK managing director of Felix Solis, has ambitious plans for the business.

Since coming on board to set up the company's own UK distribution arm last May, Cochrane, formerly trading director at Bibendum Wine, has pulled together a "lean team" of six people and split the UK into north and south territories.

Until January this year Félix Solís was distributed by Free Run Wines, and it owned a 24% share of that business. Cochrane said: "One advantage we now have is focus. We only focus on our wines."

Felix Solis

"Our plans are for fairly ambitious sizeable growth for this year," he said. It has six wineries, including four in the north of Spain in Rioja, Toro, Ribera del Duero and Rueda. It will be pushing the "smarter end" of own label wine as well as its brands. "There is terrific growth from the northern appellations of Pagos de Rey"

The second strand of its strategy is a focus on international varieties. It currently supplies exclusive brands such as Consigna for Asda, which has an rrp of £3.50, and comprises Chardonnay, Shiraz and rosé.

"They're Spanish wines, but international varieties. We have other plans for that - it's driving a lot of growth," he said.

The third area of focus is looking after its core Valdepeñas business Viña Albalí. It has been refreshing the brand with core multiples Morrisons and Tesco .

"We're looking very seriously at sparkling wine," said Cochrane, commenting on how that segment is booming right now. Looking at Spanish production figures, "half of the production is red, a whacking great chunk is sparkling and a much smaller amount for white wine", he added.

It is also looking for a winery and or vines in South America. "Chile is firmly in our cross hairs as a target," Cochrane said, "and we will develop a new facility down there - one that helps the broader business model and also brings a north/south hemisphere mix." Plans are currently in the early stages, Cochrane said, although it aims to have secured property by 2015.