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Independents and suppliers come together for Harpers Best Practice debate

Published:  19 September, 2014

Leading independent wine merchants are suppliers are to come together next month to take part in an open Harpers debate to look further at ways in which they can work closer and more effectively together.

It is the latest in a series of debates that Harpers has hosted between independent merchants and their suppliers over the last three years and will once again give both sides the chance to discuss areas where they think they might be able to work better together.

The first of these debates in the summer of 2011 culminated in Harpers being asked to set up the Best Practice Guidelines, a set of trading principles that suppliers can sign up to demonstrate their commitment to the independent sector and their willingness to be open and transparent about the wines they are looking to supply the independent sector.

The guidelines remain voluntary and have become a central part of how leading suppliers to the independent sector now plan their trading strategies as they require suppliers to ensure channel management disciplines are adhered to by their sales team and that they inform independents if wines destined for their sector are switched to other channels.

Since the guidelines were set up 17 leading wine suppliers and producers have signed up to the guidelines including most recently the French wine giants of Catel, Les Grands Chais de France and Maison Sichel.

The debate will be an opportunity for Harpers to update them, and other suppliers interested in signing up, and leading independents, about its latest plans to help promote the guidelines.

It will also look to analyse how well the guidelines are working in practice and what steps might be taken to improve or adapt them to the changing market place.

The debate will take part on October 7 between 10am and 1pm at the Hush Restaurant in London. There are still limited spaces available for both independents and supplires  to take part and if you are interested please contact Richard Siddle on as soon as possible.

The Harpers Best Practice Guidelines are:

1. Suppliers that want to publicly endorse the Harpers Best Practice Guidelines should commit themselves to these principles and conduct a transparent relationship with their customers in the independent sector

2. That these suppliers commit to a transparent independent merchant strategy which makes clear which channels of distribution they are trading in. This should be made available on request to individual wine merchants

3. Independent merchants can request information from these suppliers on an individual basis about which channel of distribution the wines and spirits they are interested in stocking are distributed in

4. Sales representatives of these suppliers must be made aware of their distribution strategy covering independent wine merchants

5. These suppliers should, on request from an independent wine merchant, be able to set out how this strategy is managed within their company and understood by their own sales staff

6. That training and information is being provided on these suppliers' distribution management strategy to sales staff

7. That these suppliers should inform affected independent merchants if the distribution management strategy for a particular wine or spirit changes.

How to get involved

To sign up to the Best Practice Guidelines you need to set out how your business is complying with the guidelines. These will be made available on the Harpers website in the Best Practice Guidelines section and publicised to independent merchants.

To sign up please contact Richard Siddle on