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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Tim Atkin MW

Bottoms Up does not have a future within the First Quench group, according to CEO David Williams. We are no longer investing in the brand,' he told Harpers in an exclusive interview. In future, the chain will be used as a clearance outlet' for surplus stock from the rest of the group's retail brands and will be reduced in size from its current 80 outlets to somewhere north of 30'. Of the 50 Bottoms Up shops that will be lost, some will close and some will be converted to Thresher Wine Shops or Wine Racks. In its new form, Bottoms Up will operate as a discount store, using the catch-line Bottoms Up, prices down'. Williams took the decision after assessing Bottoms Up's position in the market. We were butting up against Majestic and it has carved out a very good niche. Our real target market is the high street and the regular consumer.' The overall estate is to be further reduced from its current total of 2,200 stores to around 2,000 over the next eight months. We've got approximately 200 stores under review,' said Williams, around 50 of which have security problems, where we can't guarantee the safety of our staff, and the rest of which are uneconomical.' Williams confirmed that First Quench will cut its number of lines to a maximum of 400 in its top wine shops (from a high of 750 wines five years ago), but denied that the business was being dumbed down. There was an awful lot of dust on our shelves when I took over 18 months ago. We're trying to simplify the range without dumbing down.' Williams added that five or six special parcels per month, sourced by buyer Jonathan Butt, will be used to add weight and authority' to the range within those stores with a high wine mix. There will be no minimum volume for these parcels,' said Butt, as well as no maximum. They will be bought on their intrinsic value and interest to the consumer. They won't necessarily be high-priced wines.'