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M&S announce ‘Wine Transformation’ set to launch September 2023

Published:  26 October, 2022

In a Harpers exclusive, Andrew Shaw, head of BWS at M&S revealed plans to create the “most exciting wine range on the planet.”

Over the last year, news of doom and gloom has dominated the wine and spirits retail sector, with supply chain, cost of living and inflation issues all playing a part. 

Unbeknownst to most of us in the industry, M&S has been masterminding an ambitious overhaul of the look and feel of its wine range.

The project is titled ‘Wine Transformation’, and will roll out between April and September next year, ahead of Christmas 2023.

“Part of the attraction of joining M&S for me was to oversee this change of direction,” said Andrew Shaw, who joined the retailer from Bibendum last year.

“The change in direction has two main focuses. Firstly, to enhance the customer experience at the point of purchase, and, secondly, to bring the BWS range up to speed with other M&S lines that have also recently undergone ‘transformations’.”

“This time next year, our wine range will look completely different, everything will have changed bar the majority of the liquids themselves.”

Some of those changes have begun to take place. For example, maître d', Fred Sirieix, best known for the Channel 4 series First Dates, was announced as a wine ambassador in 2020 and continues to help demystify the M&S range with his ‘picks of the month’. 

However, the presentation of the wines will arguably herald the biggest change in the range.

Shaw said: “Next year, you will see an overhaul of the M&S wine labels. We’ve brought in Neil Tully MW and his team to work as our consultant designers to review every single label in the range. 

“As a result, we are actually moving from 420 wines to 382 in our wine transformation, in order to drive more differentiation between the labels and eliminate duplications.”

He added: “This is an opportunity to create the most exciting wine range on the planet, and that’s the challenge for us, but, because it’s our own intellectual property it’s very much in our remit to achieve that.”

The new designs are yet to be revealed, but the objective is to forgo the existing formulaic look of wine labels and rewrite the rulebook:

“People shop for wine for all kinds of different reasons and we need to represent that variety in our designs. We are adding colour and the matrix of regionality,” said Shaw.

As part of the initiative, Shaw hopes to reinforce the message that M&S offers honest value.

Shaw said: “Everyone thinks M&S is a premium retailer, and for good reason, but our average item price this time last year, was lower than all our mainstream competitors.

“Last year, we had a press tasting in June where many members of the national press, including Suzie Atkins, said M&S is the best value retailer on the high street.

“Honest value will continue to underpin much of our wine transformation. At present, 320 of our 420 wines never get price promoted, our value for money is driven through our Classics and Found ranges, which already offer a great benchmark value for money because they are on a net-net deal.”

An extended version of this M&S exclusive will be available to read in the November edition of Harpers magazine.