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Berkmann launches web portal for independent merchants

Published:  15 September, 2020

Berkmann Wine Cellars has launched an online resource for independent merchants featuring a tailored range of 300 wines.

With Covid-19 related restrictions preventing the company from reaching out to merchants with its usual Christmas booklets and offers, the company has created a website and web portal specifically for the independent sector where merchants can “go in and choose from 300 different wines that we’ve selected specifically for the independent specialist", said Fraser McGuire, Berkmann's national on-trade sales director. 

"It goes from entry level wines all the way through to fine wine where [businesses] can choose by country and there are offers available. It’s password protected and it's only sent to our independent specialist customer base,” he added.  

The launch follows a number of initiatives orchestrated by the supplier throughout lockdown to remain agile for itself and its customers.

As Harpers previously reported, the company raised £75,000 for the industry via its Help 4 Hospitality initiative which launched an online DTC shop between April and August.

“We went from sending everyone home to work and staying in the office with a skeleton staff to launching a B2C website, all in the space of two weeks. I think we look back on this with a certain amount of surprise at ourselves. That such a large establishment organisation could reinvent itself as a micro startup in that kind of period was stressful and exciting,” said purchasing director Alex Hunt.

In a trade update yesterday, Berkmann reported that just under 80% of its customer base is now trading after a difficult two-thirds of the year.

While there has been some fluctuation in trading levels in the north of the country versus the south, with holiday destinations and hotels suffering the most, the company said it is now seeing a return to trading in city centres as schools are back up and running and people are returning to offices. 

“We didn’t achieve anywhere near where we were last August, but we came in around 85% of previous years’ business which, considering we only had around 70-75% of accounts open in July and the start of August, is very encouraging. Based on the current trajectory, we believe that in excess of 90% of our account base will be open by the end of September,” McGuire said.

For its on-trade customers, Berkmann has also recently launched a range of 14 of own-brand wines specifically for the hospitality sector.

“During lockdown, we’ve designed, registered and launched some new own-brand wines of our own for the on-trade, particularly at the one level above entry level. So they have 14 new wines to refresh their lists with right now. We’re also working on refreshing our list of agency partners of wineries that we want to represent for the coming decades,” said Hunt.

As Harpers previously reported, sales of Provence rosé proved the most popular wine style for lockdown consumers buying through Help 4 Hospitality, with Château Minuty’s M de Minuty and Whispering Angel leading the charge. 

Portuguese wines were also surprisingly popular, with the Prunus Dão red and white and the Azahar Vinho Verde among the top 12 best-selling wines.

“Sales of Portuguese wine to the trade increased more than 400% and lo and behold, the top 12 wines selling during Help 4 Hospitality was a Vinho Verde and a Dão white. I never would have predicted five years ago we'd be selling significant quantities of white Dão either to trade or consumers,” said Hunt. 

Sales of orange wine also saw a drastic lift of 141% from April to August, though “admittedly from a low base”. 

“This is a style that is increasingly being recognised as both interesting and delicious if you choose the right examples, Hunt added.

If you're interested in accessing the online resource for independent merchants, please contact a Berkmann account manager or the Trade Marketing team on