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Accolade’s Ade McKeon bullish about UK market as new wine formats launched

Published:  13 April, 2018

At an upbeat presentation at Accolade’s Weybridge UK HQ, where the company launched its 2018 UK Wine Nation Report and unveiled new formats for its wines, general manager Adrian McKeon spoke of “enormous untapped potential in the UK market”, describing it as a “sleeping giant”.

McKeon’s remarks were framed by insights from the Report, which confirmed that the UK’s £10.8 billion wine market continues to fall in volume, but with value edging up, although largely in line with tax and price increases.

Despite the UK being seen as a mature and overcrowded market, with total value growth of wine in 2017 just +0.8% against 1.8% for the total beer, wine and spirit market, the Accolade team suggested that the industry collectively has done little in the way of embracing innovation and pushing through NPD (New Product Development), with a need to “democratise wine”, in line with what the consumer wants, to satisfy various drinking occasions.

“We are going to take an different approach to the wine business in the UK, through a thought leadership position… looking at the market through a different lens,” said McKeon.

Promising further developments to come, first off the blocks is Accolade’s new 50cl range, counting market leading Australian and South African brands Hardy’s and Kumala respectively, plus Mud House from New Zealand.

Part of the company’s ‘Perfect for….’ Proposition, aimed at giving customers more choice in the wine aisle, these wines are offered in slender, tall bottles, designed to meet the “volume requirements” of consumers in the mid-week, often ready meal-related buying category.

In line with insights from the Report, the aim is to encourage convenience stores to place these formats in the food sections of the stores, meeting the lower volume and spend, plus faster speed of shop expectations of such shoppers. Accolade is also talking to major multiples with the hope of replicating the positive feedback reported from the convenience sector, where the 50cl formats can significantly lift the overall sale for the retailer.

And while the 50cl range is positioned to tap into the market at a slight premium, above entry level, Accolade also believes that there is great potential for the format in the on-trade with higher priced wines, allowing both for a sensible lunchtime serve for two, while also encouraging trading up in line with the drinking less but better trend.

Accolade also unveiled a new wine on tap format, Festi Falls, comprising a double-chambered bag in box, with two different flavours of Echo Falls available in the one pack, aimed at the summer, BBQ and festival market.

McKeon and his team wrapped up with the promise that, as number one wine company in the UK and Ireland, there would be much more NPD to come in the coming months and years.

“We have got to get value growth back into the category, and with our [Wine Nation Report] insights, we have a good idea as to how,” added McKeon “And that is about meeting the consumer occasion – why is wine still in 75cl bottles?”