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Looking ahead: Paul Jenkins, Caprice Holdings

Published:  13 December, 2018

Once again we’re catching up with the trade over the next few weeks to find out how businesses are making the most of the all-important Christmas trading period, while also looking ahead to the challenges and opportunities 2019 may bring.

After a period of oversupply and some painful readjustment, the UK restaurant sector is in better balance, says Caprice Holdings purchasing director Paul Jenkins in our Looking Ahead series.

Is the trade is in a stronger or weaker place now than at the same time last year?

At the risk of giving a politician’s answer, I think the trade (both on-trade and the wine trade) are both stronger and weaker than the same time last year.

The on-trade has seen a pretty dramatic shake up in the past 12 months but this has forced operators to look at the viability of their business model and make the necessary changes – reduction in number of sites (lessening over-supply) and improving the quality of the offer. This time 12 months ago there were too many mediocre offers in a crowded market place.

Although this process can be painful, it was needed and the on-trade is fundamentally in a better place as a result. However, challenges remain for both the on-trade and the wine trade in general – the ogre in the room being Brexit and its uncertainty on so many levels. But also, I believe over supply in the market remains an issue. Too many businesses running too many marginal sites and relying on discounting to draw in customers. It is simply not sustainable.

What were the highs and lows for your own business in 2018?

Highs were undoubtedly the continued success of The Ivy Collection, the opening of the new Annabel’s club at 46 Berkeley Square and the feedback we have received from the restaurant refurbishments completed to date in Bill’s Restaurants.

There is a huge opportunity to grow the wine category in Bill’s and we’re looking forward to working hard with our partners in 2019 to achieve this. The lows have simply been the nagging uncertainty around Brexit.

What were the most significant trends in the drinks world that occurred in 2018?

For our businesses, we have continued to see guests buying better wines and understanding that for often very little extra investment they can buy a significantly better wine. Lower ABV wines, beers and spirits continue to increase in popularity.

What drinks trends do you predict will emerge or become more firmly established in 2019?

Given we appear to be leaving Europe I’d love to see a rediscovery of the virtues of “Old World” wines. If we can’t be in Europe then I’d hope to see us at least continuing to enjoy its exports.

What are likely to be the biggest opportunities for the trade in 2019?

Continue to focus on being better. I think growth is still possible in 2019 but it has to be underpinned by a quality product. Eating out and drinking better and better wine has become a national pastime. This isn’t going to change (I hope), but we have to work hard to continue to meet our guest’s expectations.

What will be the biggest challenges facing the trade in 2019?


What, for you, would make for a perfect Christmas?

Cold weather (mild Christmases just aren’t right), kids happily and quietly playing (I can dream) and a decent bottle of Champagne to share with my wife.