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Online wine merchant Swig targets on-trade as it appoints its first brand ambassador

Published:  27 March, 2015

Swig, the independent online merchant is ramping up its focus on the on-trade after appointing a new brand ambassador.

The company has appointed Courtney Stebbings, previously the wine buyer and restaurant manager for Lyle's in Shoreditch and head sommelier at the River Café, to head up the project. Stebbings, who worked with the company at Lyles, took on the project after an accident last year forced her to quit the restaurant floor. She will combine the role with freelance work in wine education and organising tastings.

Damon Quinlan said business was keen to develop sales to the on-trade, which currently accounts for around 10% of its business.

"The on-trade as something we want to built, but although the focus is very much on that at the moment, we won't cast aside our off-tade business," he said.

The majority of Swig;'s customer-base - around 70% - are private clients, but its off-trade/ on-trade split is currently around 65% / 35% and Quinlan says he wants to see this move to around 50/50.

"We're doing well in and the retail side is very buoyant. There is a good buzz in the off-trade, which is a good barometer of the market,." he said. "We've found the off-trade is keen on what we're doing and people get on board, but getting into restaurants has been more difficult," he admitted.

"We have a great, fun offer that is very dynamic and a bit different, but felt we weren't making the ground that we wanted to and felt that we should be," he said, adding that sommeliers seldom had the time to look for more suppliers.

"Courtney was perfect as she does not have a sales history, but a background as a sommelier herself. She has done wonders already as is very active in wine circles," he added. "There has already been more interest and we have opened new accounts as well as attending exciting events in London that we would previously not have taken part in,"

Her work with the company is the first stage in a longer-term strategy, Quinlan said.

Earlier this week, the company co-hosted a tasting with Hallowed Ground, a wine agency and membership club that champions Australian & New Zealand fine wine.