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Wine bottler and wholesaler The Lanchester Group launches first retail shop

Published:  22 April, 2015

Bottling specialist and wholesaler The Lanchester Group has launched its first retail outline in County Durham.

The Pip Stop, which is being launched officially this Saturday, will stock around 250 wines, both Old and New World, which are supplied by the company's wholesale and bottling arms and 40-50 world and local beers. It is being managed by Ben Cleary, the son of the company's founders Anthony and Veronica Cleary, who previously worked at Majestic Wines.

The Group's bottling arm, Greencroft Wines is one of UK's largest wine bottlers and bottles wines for national and regional accounts, including Asda, Sainsbury's, Matthew Clark and brands including Concha Y Toro. It also operates a wholesale business, Lanchester Wine Cellars, which imports and supplies bulk wines to brewers, pub chains and off-licenses, with its own brands including Alta Rita and  Butterfly Tree.

"It makes sense to have a retail outlet, " Cleary told "With the bottling and wholesale business, we can compete against the supermarkets. We are also talking to a number of customers to get some interesting wines that are available in the off-trade."

The shop, which is 10-15 minutes outside Durham at Maiden Law, is on the site of a former 1950's Morgan garage and incorporates elements of its motoring heritage in the décor, including a 'bargain booth' sited in the front half of a Mini, and a large central barrel tasting table.

"We tried to make it quirky and different," Cleary said. "We are close to the warehouse, but not the town centre so we wanted to make it a destination in its own right."

The Pip Stop opens on Saturday The Pip Stop opens on Saturday

Cleary is hoping to attract tourists visiting Durham as well as more local business, and wants the store to become as big as a small Majestic store in its first year, turning over around £300-500k. "If we are successful, to look for more retail sites in year 2 and 3," Cleary said. " There are lots of derelict garages out here and the overall plan is to open more."

As well as offering tasting and educational events, the Pip Stop is also looking to roll out personalised labelling on its wines on wines from its own warehouses for consumers.

The bottling business has seen growth up 50% year on year, Cleary says and provides a strong plank for the company's businesses which includes a gift and energy company in addition to bottling and wines business. 

"Growth has been fantastic" Cleary said.

In January, Greencroft Bottling was named on the Investec Mid-market 100 of fast growing businesses and has seen its turnover rise 44% to £32.07m in the year to 30 June 2014. Earlier this month is announced investment of £6.5m into boosting its warehousing.  

The wine wholesales business saw a tougher year, the directors said in its annual accounts filed at Companies House, but turnover rose to £26.9m in 2014, up from £24.2m.