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London's premium on-trade wine market growing 18% per year

Published:  12 February, 2015

The market for top wines is growing at a rate of 18.4% by value in London restaurants, against a backdrop of declining wine sales in the on-trade overall, down 9.3% by value for the year to July 2014.

libertyLiberty Wines

That's according to a new report from supplier Liberty Wines carried out by CGA Strategy, which also shows customers in more upmarket outlets are becoming more adventurous and are prepared to spend more on wine.

All in all, the success that sparkling wine is enjoying elsewhere is mirrored in the premium on-trade, with sales up 45% in the last year. Champagne accounts for six out of 10 bottles of sparkling wine sold in higher end venues, and while small, the premium on-trade wine market is growing steadily. It currently represent s 13% of the total on-trade wine market.

White wine still dominates by volume in the premium on-trade (55% white, 36% red) in 2014, but in value terms red wine is showing good growth and is just 3% behind white at 44%. All main red varieties are up, with Merlot the biggest grape by value, up +18.3%.

Gastropubs are showing the strongest growth in wine sales, up +47% by volume.

Consumers still favour classic wines from France and Italy, which are growing by value and volume, but New Zealand is the fastest-growing by value.

David GleaveDavid GleaveDavid Gleave

David Gleave MW, managing director of Liberty Wines, said: "People are clearly drinking better quality wines than before. This is coupled with an increasing number of quality places to eat and drink. Although consumers tend to stick to styles and varieties they know and trust we are increasingly seeing them trade-up to wines further down the list. Our job is to continue to entice people to try new styles and varieties from across the globe. London's premium on-trade wine market is growing by 18.4% by value year-on-year. We believe this is set to continue and that the rest of Britain can follow suit."

Other key findings:

  • More than half of London's on-trade managers picked Fiano as the one to watch in 2015
  • Chardonnay is regaining popularity especially in restaurants (+38.5% volume growth)
  • Viognier is upholding its premium status, as value is growing significantly faster than volume, increasing by +21%
  • Pinot Noir grew by +75% in volume in gastropubs and is expected to continue its success into 2015
  • Grenache enjoyed double digit volume growth in the past year albeit from a small base
  • Sangiovese is maintaining its premium status, with value rising by +29% in the past year

Liberty Wines report analysed drinking trends of consumers using unique sales data from across the firm and CGA, alongside a survey of 500 managers.