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Think Indie, Drink Indie returns for a second year

Published:  29 June, 2017

A truly collaborative day was had by all at the second edition of Harpers’ Think Indie, Drink Indie event, which celebrates the UK’s thriving independent sector and also puts the needs of its business community at the centre of a daylong series of events.

The day built up to the big reveal of Harpers’ 50 Best Indies list, which gave well-deserved nods to the merchants at the forefront of quality independent retailing.

Hal Wilson and the team at Cambridge Wine Merchants topped this year’s list for their great portfolio, an off- and on-trade offering that blurs the traditional boundaries, and strong wholesale arm.

Also making a splash is this year’s highest new entry, Vino in Edinburgh, which rose from the ashes of Wine Rack which folded in 2010.

The highest climber meanwhile was D Byrne & Co in Lancashire, which jumped up twenty places from last year’s ranking to scoop second place.

But before rounding off the event with a toast to the best of the industry in M Restaurants’ fantastic Victoria venue, the floor was opened up to the indie trade to meet, talk, taste and shine a light on some of the sector’s most important topics.

Throughout the day, workshops put some of the leading voices in the industry in front of visitors to work through topics such as the pros and cons of buying direct, and how online technology can help independents reach customers.

Panelists including Michael Vachon at Maverick Drinks, Ben Stephenson at Hanging Ditch Wine Merchants and Ruth Spivey at Wine Car Boot all kicked off the first session of the day in our Marketing & Merchandising Debate.

Panelists all shared valuable insight into what works for their businesses, including the best ways to maximise promotions, the psychology of shop layout, displays and signage, and how to get immediate results from in-store events.

Next up was the Technology & Innovation Workshop, where Julian Perry, at Limitless Wine Internet Solutions and others broke down how things like e-commerce and social media can be used to help independent businesses at different stages of growth.

Deliveroo’s Harry Tyndall also showed the room just how much the internet is changing the way consumers order and discover new products through its growing network of merchant partnerships.

The process of buying direct and when to go down the own-label route rounded off the day, before we revealed our second annual list of the UK’s 50 Best Indies.

The list, which was compiled from a poll of Harpers’ UK-wide judging academy, was at the heart of the event, celebrating the exceptional work of the country’s best independent retailers who bring exceptional knowledge, passion and customer service to every corner of this wine-loving nation.

We look forward to welcoming you all to our third annual Think Indie, Drink Indie event next year.