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Top merchants and suppliers gather in London to debate ways they can work better together

Published:  07 October, 2014

How wine suppliers can work better and more efficiently with independent retailers will be the subject of a key Harpers debate being held this morning in London between leading figures on both sides.

Best Practice GuidelinesBest Practice Guidelines

How wine suppliers can work better and more efficiently with independent retailers will be the subject of a key Harpers debate being held this morning in London between leading figures on both sides.

It is hoped the meeting will allow both suppliers and independent retailers to better understand each others needs so that they can work together more effectively in the future.

It is the latest in a series of debates that Harpers has held between independent merchants and their suppliers. The initial debate, back in autumn 2011, resulted in the formation of the Best Practice Guidelines, a set of principles that suppliers could sign up to that showed their commitment to the independent sector and their willingess to be open about which wines were being targeted exclusively for that sector. Crucially the guidelines remain voluntary.

To date 17 suppliers have signed up to the guidelines and a large number of them will be at today's debate. But it will also feature a number of suppliers that have not yet signed up but interested in finding out more about what independent merchants are looking for.

Best Practice SupporterBest Practice Supporter

It will also be an opportunity for suppliers to set out what they would like to see from independent merchants that will enable them to invest more in the sector.

Leading suppliers lined up to attend include Best Practice partners Hatch Mansfield, Las Bodegas, Castelnau Wine Agencies, World Wine Agencies, Castel, Codorniu UK, PLB, Mentzendorff, Les Grands Chais de France, Maison Sichel, Bottle Green, Ehrmanns, Hayward Brothers,  Les Caves de Pyrene and Indigo Wines.  Other suppliers include Hallgarten Druitt, Bibendum, Treasury Wine Estates and Kinglsland Wines.

Independent merchants attending the event include Jamie Hutchinson of the Sampler, Hal Wilson of Cambridge Wine Merchants, Ted Sandbach of Oxford Wine Company, Doug Wood of Woodwinters, Nick Darlington of Red Squirrel Wines, Julia Jenkins of Flagship Wines, Stephen Forward of Essentially Wine.

The event is being held at Hush restaurant in Mayfair between 10am and 12.45pm. Anyone interested in attending can still contact Richard Siddle via twitter on @richardsiddle.

The debate will be an opportunity for Harpers to update the suppliers and independents about its latest plans to help promote the guidelines and some key other activity plannned for 2015 to help support the independent sector.

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