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Jeroboams ‘neighbourhood’ family of stores to hit 10 with Chelsea opening

Published:  22 May, 2023

Jeroboams, which bills itself as ‘London’s local wine merchant’, is to hit the milestone of 10 stores this June as part of what the company describes as its “ambitious growth plans”.

In news shared exclusively with Harpers, CEO Matt Tipping confirmed that a site has been secured on the King’s Road in Chelsea, which he described as “a huge milestone”.

Elaborating, Tipping added: “We are thrilled to have secured such a fantastic location in one of the most sought-after areas of south west London. Our growth aspirations have long included a Jeroboams shop in the heart of Chelsea and where better than on the Kings Road?”

    • Read more: 50 Best Indies 2023 – The full rundown

The Harpers 50 Best Indies stalwart has long been looking for a suitable site in such a Chelsea location, believing it to be an ideal fit with its ethos of serving smart ‘London villages’, and being embedded in those communities.

With an on-site kitchen and flexible downstairs events space, the new outlet will also draw on the Holland Park store’s food and wine emporium model to offer local produce, plus the more widely offered Jeroboams medley of weekly in-store tastings, a monthly wine club, fine wine services, local delivery, events and trade sales.

“This site is something a little bit special for us, we've managed to find somewhere that's got enough space in the basement for us to have at least 18 people sat around the table and up to 30 standing,” said Tipping.

“We've got a similar but smaller facility in Walton Street, but as a business we've needed this extra space and it's going be a real hub for us in terms of both press like yourselves, but also when we have our agencies come across, and also for private customers.”

Harpers can also reveal that King’s Road – following on from Wimbledon late last year – is to be followed by at least two more roll-outs of the distinctive green Jeroboams façade in the not too distant future.

Tipping, who believes that between 12-14 shops is “probably the maximum we could go to” without losing some of the independent ethos and feel, said that each opening quickly adapts to local customer buying habits in terms of tweaking the range and service, while also strengthening the trade arm’s reach in the given neighbourhood.

“There’s the long-term Chelsea community, and then a really vibrant, younger community, and our belief is that they are also very experience-led, which is why we’ve included the private events, the cheese and meats, the dining room, looking for high quality,” continued Tipping.

“We’re saying, ‘okay, we've got a core range, and the core range should be consistent across the shops’, but I would say that around about 30% of the range is tweaked, and that could be price points, it could be different regions, all sorts of different criteria, but that's the tweaking that we look to put in to give that shop its own personality, to ensure it’s still niche.”

Empowering managers and staff to make neighbourhood and customer-relevant choices in each shop is also key to delivering on this.

On the subject of identifying new sites with the potential to work, Tipping said that as a medium-sized company it is prohibitive to spend thousands on data, but that his trade team “are out pounding the streets, in restaurants and bars, so they have a pretty good idea of what is going on” in a given neighbourhood.

“We don't generally aim for a prime pitch, because our customers are not necessarily those daily shoppers that are going out for fashion, retail, etc, so for me, the real sweet spot is the type of pitch that is in the area where the local residents go en route to and from the shops. And [in a neighbourhood] where there are other similarly-minded companies, independent businesses,” he added.

Jeroboams, which appears to be in strong financial shape, now reporting 60% year-on-year growth on pre-Covid levels – on the back of a healthy uptick during the pandemic – is in the enviable position of “self-financing” Chelsea and beyond.

The bounce-back of new restaurant openings in central London’s smarter neighbourhoods is also driving good growth on the trade side, with the shops allowing quick and efficient delivery locally and beyond.

In the final tally, though, Tipping says success is about and always will be built upon “the customer experience”, with tougher trading conditions down to cost-of-living inflation actually driving more premium sales.

“Trading conditions are tough [and] customers are making decisions about how they spend their money and whether they're spending their money well,” he said.

“I believe people chose companies and people they like to do business with and where they feel good about shopping from, which isn't just about us, it's about – I would hope – all independent businesses.”

Interestingly, for Jeroboams and its team, in the current climate this comes down to getting the fundamentals right over and above any innovation.

“Our approach is really clear and really very simple when you boil it down – we’re a traditional wine merchants, albeit with a young team – it’s about customer service, the customer experience, and delivering quality, all that traditional stuff.”

Traditional it may be, but with the agency side of the business also growing in strength, including selling into other indies, and sales channels that are fairly evenly split between shop retail, trade and private sales, it’s a business model that is clearly working.

“There's a lot going on in trade and in private sales as well, which is really, really exciting for the future, in addition to the bricks and mortar,” concluded Tipping.