Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Regulation changed shoppers buying habits in Scotland, says independent merchant

Published:  03 June, 2016

As with university fees and other devolved powers concerning health and education, Scotland has its own rules regulation when it comes to the drinks industry.

As with university fees and other devolved powers concerning health and education, Scotland has its own rules regulation when it comes to the drinks industry.

These include a move in 2011 to ban multibuys in retail outlets - an initiative designed to clamp down on the country's heavy drinking culture.

It is easy for those in the south to see London as the originator of the majority of drinks trends which then filter out to the rest of the UK's dominions.

But in the UK, where multiples like Sainsbury's are bowing not to regulation but to pressure to scrap mulitbuy wine deals and are replacing them with the occasional discounts on cases of mix'n'match bottles to encourage customers, it appears that the south is slowly modifying its ideology to echo its northern neighbours.

Andrew Lundy, managing director Edinburgh-based independent merchant Vino, says that north of the border, regulation has had a knock on effect for the industry and actually has not just tempered culture, but altogether changed it.

Lundy explains: "To some extent we're past that multibuy culture now. Someone asked us recently if we were interested in buying a pallet of bin end wine, but it's not really what our customers are into. They don't even really look for the really discounted stuff anymore.

"Supermarkets can offer multibuys online, so in Scotland indies are at a disadvantage in that sense. They're not big companies like Tesco, so they can't bend the rules. But we've definitely seen a change in buying habits."

When it comes to competing with the multiples, however, Lundy thinks the indies have a better solution than to rely on multibuys and discounts to engage customers.

Christmas Shopping

This solution, he says, is an issue of customer service - and is one that doesn't pay attention to north/south divides.

"At Vino we don't think of other independents as rivals," said Lundy. "It's all about giving that level of service that benefits the whole indie trade; so that whether someone goes into an indie in Brighton or Scotland, they know they're going to have that same level of service. We're able to spend the time that Tesco and the other supermarkets aren't able to give."

Indeed, another aspect of the trade which unites north and south is the constant battle for bricks and mortar indies to cope with the multiples popping up on every street corner.

And according to Lundy, the defiant spirit of the indies is something that unites merchants across the UK.

"It's the same in Scotland as it is down here," says Lundy. "If someone wants to buy a cheap Merlot then we're not going to compete with the supermarkets and we don't want to. Customers come to us for excitement and for our personal choice which is something we're bale to offer. We've replaced 50% of our wine range this year, which has created a lot of buzz with our customers."

"Just because we're on the same street as them doesn't mean they're going to buy from us. We have to fight for them," he said.

For the interview with Andrew Lundy check out this month's print edition or click here.