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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Christian Davis

Beringer Blass Wine Estates (BBWE) has set up a strategic alliance' with the Waverley Group to target its Australian wines at the UK on-trade. In the autumn (Harpers, 14 September) Southcorp formed a similar alliance with Matthew Clark, also to get its brands distributed in UK bars, restaurants, pubs and hotel bars. Australia is expected to overtake France as the UK's most popular wine-producing country in terms of off-trade sales, but it is only fourth in the on-trade, with an approximate 12% share of the market. John Shortt, managing director of BBWE (Northern Europe), told Harpers: Traditionally, brands are developed in the on-trade, but Australia has done it the other way round. With Seagram being sold, it allowed us to re-assess and it made sense for Waverley to become our national wholesaler for the on-trade. Garreth Anderson will head the new sales team, based at Beringer Blass' Twickenham office. 'Approximately 15% of Beringer Blass' brands, which include Wolf Blass, Rothbury Estate, Jamieson's Run and Yellowglen, are sold through the on-trade. Hew Dalrymple, marketing and strategic director of the Waverley Group, said: Given our strength and national coverage in the on-trade, we are confident that we can offer a superior service to existing HORECA business.' Consumers want real brands,' said Shortt, and there is clearly an opportunity in the on-trade for Australian wines.' Waverley signalled this opportunity when it unveiled its Face Value' research at the London International Wine & Spirit Fair last May. This found that poor service, poor quality, poor value, no brands and no choice contributed to reasons not to think wine'. The research, reported exclusively in Harpers (1 June), concluded that the potential for wine in the on-trade is vast', but that suppliers and retailers must bring off-trade trends into the on-premise sector and must offer more choice, better quality - the appropriate wines in the right type of establishment - and raise wine's profile. Brands are increasingly driving the market with a New World perspective, and the on- and off-trade consumers buying decisions are similar, but time and recognition of consumer needs leaves the on-trade well behind,' the report concluded.