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Oakley Wine Agencies grows sales by 20% in face of reduced listings in major multiples

Published:  12 March, 2015

Family run Oakley Wine Agencies, which specialises in Portuguese wines, posted 20% growth over the last 12 months despite facing a challenging trading market with supermarkets.

The agency, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, is putting a major emphasis on growing its presence in the independent sector during 2015.

"We have always had offerings in the independent sector, but we are not as well-known as we would like," owner Nick Oakley told

Oakley Wine Agency has a long history of championing Portuguese wines successfully with supermarkets, but he admitted the changing market dynamics make the independent sector more attractive.

"Supermarkets are reducing ranges. I think the independent sector will find some room and grow market share as customers look elsewhere for interesting wines. Who else is going to do it? I wouldn't be surprised to see an increase in market share for independents of 5-10%. It is a more buoyant and dynamic sector," he said.

Oakley argues that the polarisation of the market place is set to continue. "Supermarkets will sit on one side of the wall and independents on the other," he explained "If supermarkets continue reducing their ranges as they are at the moment, it leaves the field open for the independents to fill that void. I see the independents winning back a modest share of the market."

Despite supplying several supermarkets with wine, he says his agency is committed to clear channel management when selling to independents.

"I started out years ago as a shop and I know how channel management can impact independent merchants. We have always managed this impeccably," he said.

His experience selling to supermarkets illustrated that wines are often created to certain specifications, so a 'supermarket' wine should never be seen in both channels.

Oakley Wine Agencies which a family run business saw sales grow 20% over the last 12 months.

"What you end up supplying to supermarkets is really making stuff to their recipes. For example it may need to be sweet, it may need a specific ABV, have its own label and be to their formula. Wines tend to be created for that channel and they don't have a life outside of it."

The agency has been affected by the recent range culls and although it has lost some of its Tesco listings, but it has picked up new listing with Morrisons, ASDA and Majestic. Despite the delisting the company is still on track for 20% growth this year.

Oakley expressed frustration in how buying has changed within the supermarket retail environment in recent years.

"The Tesco buying machine isn't just bigger than me; it is bigger than the buyer, who doesn't even have control. They are de-skilling the buying teams in supermarkets. The person who is buying the wine may be an MW, but right over their shoulder is the actual buyer- a person with a calculator and if wines are not performing, it is cut. It is not just me who is being impacted, other suppliers are also being cut from shelves as well," said Oakley.

But Oakley believes these changes are short-term. "I think it is a temporary situation which supermarkets will come under pressure for," he added.

Only 20% of the 25 producers Oakley currently represents are able to fulfil volumes that supermarkets require and the other producers he believes are the right fit for independent merchants.

Equally he believes his ability to hold stock of Portuguese wines in the UK, which is a relatively slow selling country, is an added benefit to independents.