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Ex-Oddbins boss, Simon Baile, says standalone wine retailing not sustainable

Published:  18 September, 2014

Former Oddbins-supremo Simon Baile says there's no future in the world of standalone wine retailing, and has changed his model to include food and entertainment.

Simon BaileEx-Oddbins boss Simon Baile has developed a new kind of wine retailingBaile’s ExCellar chain, rescued from administration last year, now has a much broader focus than pure wine retailing. It sells food as well as offering live music and entertainment.

Baile, who presided over Oddbins when it went into administration in 2011, now runs four shops under the ExCellar banner in London. At the start of last year Baile's fledgling estate of five shops ran into difficulties and also went into administration, but Baile managed to buy back four of the five stores. These are located in Fulham and Surbiton in south west London and Ashtead and Claygate in Surrey.

Baile said he would no longer class the group as a wine business, saying, "it's more of a lifestyle business". He said the "wine trade has certainly suffered, so we decided to cut our cloth in a different way, and build a more sustainable, diverse and fun business".

"We sell wine, coffee and cakes, we feed people, do wine tastings, outside catering, host live bands and we're talking about comedy nights."

While he admitted the business still "revolves around alcohol", he said he was trying to incorporate a much wider base, and is even selling crockery.

Baile told the business is "in its infancy" - it has converted three of the four stores to this model, with the fourth set to make the change before Christmas. The changes have been made over the past two years by "more of a gradual shift" away from being a wine merchant to the current offering.

He said he is keen to make the business work, and is not considering expanding the chain. "It was pretty obvious we had to do something to make a more sustainable model," he said, especially given many operators are now blurring the lines between the on and off-trade. "That's the future for a lot of people," he said.

Accounts filed by ExCellar at Companies House before it went into administration showed a loss of just under £93,000 for 2011, following losses of £87,000 in the previous year.