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John Keast: Scarlet Wines, Hayle, Cornwall

Published:  03 May, 2010

Jon Keast, owner, Scarlet Wines, Hayle, Cornwall

Describe your shop.
Our specialism is that we offer all of our wines for consumption on premises and with food as we are a cafe as well as a wine shop. We also specialise a little in Italy.

How have sales been so far this year?
We are still in our first year but we are ahead of the business plan by approximately 30% so far.

What's your projected turnover for the year?
£300k or a bit more with a good summer.

How do you market your shop?
We avoid advertising. We try hard to collect customer email addresses, we use PR whenever possible and we try to send everyone out the door happy.

What's the best bargain in your shop?
Valdivieso Reserve Pinot Noir, amazing for the money - £8.95.

What's the best-selling wine?
Probably Yealands Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

What should be going like hot cakes, but somehow isn't?
Anything French: some great wines, but customers take some convincing.

Describe your typical customer in one sentence.
Atypical! Seriously, we have a mixture of locals in for a coffee and a bottle for their evening, Londoners visiting buying a mixed case for their holiday cottage or locals with an interest in wine buying a case of Aglianico. Tell you more in a year's time.

Are you in favour of minimum alcohol pricing?
No! Government should keep its nose out of people's lives.

Which suppliers do you find most helpful?
We use two big ones, both of whom have given us excellent service - Liberty and Bibendum.

Do you think there are now too many independent wine stores or can the sector continue to expand?
I think there is a limit. In Cornwall there are a lot of towns, each with a population of about 10,000 people: it would be hard to support more than one independent, and even then you need other income sources to make the business work - hence we are a cafe also.

What are your plans for the coming year?
We are still very much in our growth curve as people get to hear of us locally. We will be working to develop our trade sales further in our local area, and also looking at whether a better PR agency might work for us.

What advice would you give to yourself if you were starting afresh tomorrow?
Just go for it and be confident. We were quite hesitant to start the whole business but it seems, so far at least, that people like what we are offering, so why hold back?