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Vindependents poised to add spirits and beers to its portfolio

Published:  02 June, 2017

Vindependents, the drinks agency for independents run by independents, is going from strength to strength but the buying group is far from resting on its laurels.

Just two years after launch, founder Jessica Hutchinson told Harpers the group’s “main plan” for the immediate future was to make its first foray outside wine, with both spirits and beers poised to join the portfolio in the foreseeable future.

The move would however be “quite complicated” from a logistic point of view, she said.

“Storing spirits under bond is not as simple as storing wine but once we have that sorted, we have a wealth of knowledge amongst the members which should allow us to create a fantastic range just for indies,” said Hutchinson, adding she expected spirits and beers to become part of Vindependents’ repertoire from early next year.

The group also revealed plans to more than double its current 300-strong wine menu to the tune of 600 - 800 in the next three years as part of a strategy to “cover a lot more areas” in a bid to allow its members to buy “as much wine as possible from us”.

In addition to this, Hutchinson has not ruled out further own label ranges following the initial success of Vindependents’ such range, which joined the portfolio in June last year.

Its own label Prosecco had done “much better” than anticipated, she said, adding Vindependents had been able to secure quantities where other suppliers had been running out, with the quality and price having “really help up”.

The Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand was doing well too and had been “building sales solidly”, she said.

“The retail side has started off strongly, but it always takes time to switch wine listings into the wholesale side of a business and, in order to do this, customers need to be sure that there won’t be stock shortages as the wine is not UK bottled,” said Hutchinson, adding the group’s logistics on this had proven “first class” and as such, she expected a lot more listings to come.

At the same time, Vindependents is working hard to to gain stronger foothold in the north of England, with a specific focus on Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria, Durham, Northumberland, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire.

“We will soon be contacting merchants in the areas we are targeting to explain how everything works and inviting them to our first tasting in Manchester in October.

“Once people understand the concept, they just need to taste the wines and once this happens, they normally apply to join,” said Hutchinson.

The aim, she added, was to have a at least a member in each county so the group has nationwide coverage and can offer its wines to all members of the wine buying public no matter where in the UK they live.

In the “northern area”, Vindependents currently has members in Birmingham, Peterborough, Nottinghamshire, Manchester, Cheshire, Clitheroe, North Wales and Scotland.