The Harpers Best Practice Guidelines came about following a series of open debates between leading independent wine merchants and major wine suppliers in the summer and autumn of 2011.
It was clear from those debates that there were certain issues about the channel management of some wines in the independent sector.
It was agreed that a set of voluntary guidelines outlining the trading principles by which independents and suppliers could work more effectively together should be drawn up.
Harpers was asked to carry out an open consultation with both independent merchants and suppliers to determine how those guidelines should be drawn up and followed.
It also carried out a trade survey with independents that found:
A resounding 80% of merchants said they would like suppliers to make their strategy for servicing independents transparent, although most are happy for information to be provided in confidence.
Almost 90% of independents surveyed agreed that suppliers should make clear which channel of distribution its wine and spirits are destined for.
83% of merchants surveyed said sales representatives should be aware of these arrangements.
87% of merchants surveyed said suppliers should set out how this is managed and understood throughout their teams.
Following that consultation in the autumn of 2011 Harpers was able to propose and then agree a set of seven guidelines with a steering group made of 13 prominent suppliers and independents.
Doug Wregg of Les Caves de Pyrene said of the guidelines at the time: “This is about professional business practices and respect. These guidelines are about how independents would like to be treated by suppliers and vice versa.”
Since its formal launch in November 2011 a growing number of suppliers have signed up to the guidelines and implemented their principles in to their trading strategies with independent merchants.
The current number of Best Practice supplier members stands at 17 with major French producers Maison Sichel and Les Grands Chais de France the latest to sign up.
To sign up you simply have to set out what it is your company is doing to comply with and follow the guidelines