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My View: On-trade is not averse to supermarket brands

Published:  18 January, 2007

I disagree with Angela Mount's view (Harpers magazine, December 21) that the on-trade is averse to supermarket brands.

Having spoken to specialists, restaurant wine buyers and sommeliers, she should have a more balanced view.

Pub and restaurant chains invariably offer hard brands like Jacobs Creek, as they have the buying power to still make reasonable gross profit selling at prices the consumer won't shy away from. Our price for Jacobs Creek is 4.34, but after adding VAT and 65% p.o.r., the price on the wine list is 14.50.

Consumers understand about grape varieties and most wine lists now do not offer a "house wine" but several whites, reds and roses by the glass and the bottle. People are looking for familiarity of grape not brand.

Looking at the overall on-trade market, independents are being squeezed between the buying power of national retail off-trade supermarkets and national on-trade multiples and pub chains. The true independents are looking for a unique point of difference, a better-quality offering and advice and training on construction of lists and staff training.

I see no place in the truly independent sector for one dimensional brands and hope that British entrepreneurial instincts prevail and we continue to see more than just " a few magical gems" on wine lists in future.

David Robertson is the head of the wine development at H.B. Clark & Co.