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Borough Wines restructures as specialist wine on tap wholesaler

Published:  23 September, 2019

Recently troubled merchant Borough Wines is back in the game, with new investment from its on-going backers, a strengthened operations team and the opening of a new kegging facility swinging the focus onto sustainable wine on tap delivery for wholesale clients.

Following a challenging period that saw the business fall into administration on 31 May and shed several of its six-strong retail estate (the original Borough market site has been retained and Stoke Newington and Hackney will become franchise operations next year), the company secured £500,000 new investment from its French backers.

This has allowed a full restructure and for Borough’s new wine kegging facility in Greenwich to open and underpin the renewed direction for the business.

The company has also announced two key appointments, with Anson Read coming aboard from Wasabi Sushi & Bento restaurants as director of operations, and James Laird as warehouse general manager, bringing 20 years of wine trade distribution experience to the role.

Speaking to Harpers, co-founder Muriel Chatel said: “The main reason we went into administration is that we couldn’t get out of the lease of the shops we wanted to close and it was difficult, in this retail environment, to find anyone to take on those leases.

“We have amazing partners that really understand what we are trying to do. Borough was always about coming in and buying wines on tap, so that is what we wanted to focus on, but as a long term aim through wholesale,” she added.

“It take faith to invest in the UK at the moment, but [our backers] could see that this is quite a revolution in the way that wine is being sold - it’s not an innovation any more, which is why they invested in us.”

Borough was early into the on tap wine market, bringing the technology to bear in its retail outlets, while also looking to grow uptake among its on-trade wholesale accounts, as part of the business’s strong commitment to sustainability.

With the new kegging facility, backed by a partnership with Ecofass for the company’s Refill-keg system, plus a new warehouse as part of the restructure, Borough is looking to capitalise on its market-leading role as a supplier of what it describes as “the only refillable wine keg available in the UK”, with the strapline ‘we are wine on tap – Rethink how you drink’.

Chatel says that wine on tap only makes sense if the container is fully refillable, allowing “full embrace of the circular economy”, bringing the benefits of “bulk in small quantity” to work for smaller, artisanal growers, and not just the big volume producers.