De Bortoli is latest big name to join Harpers Best Practice Guidelines for independents

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De Bortoli Wines is the latest major supplier to sign up to the Harpers Best Practice Guidelines for independent wine merchants designed to bring greater channel transparency to the wine industry’s fastest growing retail sector.


The guidelines, which were introduced at the end of last year after months of cross industry consultation, have now attracted many of the independent sector’s biggest suppliers who have each pledged to sign up and follow the seven key principles laid down in the guidelines.


The initiative came about following a series of seminars held as part of the Harpers Top Merchants programme where a number of independent specialist wine retailers complained about what they felt was unfair treatment at the hands of some suppliers – when wines they believed were destined exclusively for the independent sector ended up on sale, at lower prices, through multiple channels.


Open discussions between leading suppliers and merchants, including Jamie Hutchinson at The Sampler, Hal Wilson of Cambridge Wine Merchants and Ted Sandbach at the Oxford Wine Company, as well as Hatch Mansfield, PLB, Grupo Codorníu UK, Mentzendorff, Les Caves de Pyrene and Raymond Reynolds, resulted in the guidelines being approved through national consultation programme.


Any supplier interested in signing up to the Harpers Best Practice Guidelines can do so by emailing harpers.editorial@wrbm.comstating what steps you are taking to follow the guidelines outlined below. In return Harpers can provide you with point of sale material and a Best Practice Guidelines logo to use on promotional  material and company websites.

Who has signed up so far?
Hayward Bros, World Wine Agenices, Patriarche, Indigo Wine, Ehrmanns, Mentzendorff, Les Caves de Pyrene, Hatch Mansfield, Cavendish Wines, Grupo Codorníu UK, Las Bodegas, PLB, De Bortoli Wines.

The Harpers Best Practice Guidelines:

1 Suppliers that want to publicly endorse the Harpers’ Merchants Best Practice Guidelines should commit themselves to these principles and conduct a transparent relationship with their customers in the independent sector.

2 That these suppliers commit to a transparent independent merchant strategy which makes clear which channels of distribution they are trading in. This should be made available on request to individual wine merchants.

3 Independent merchants can request information from these suppliers on an individual basis about which channel of distribution the wines and spirits they are interested in stocking are distributed in.

4 Sales representatives of these suppliers must be made aware of their distribution strategy covering independent wine merchants.

5 These suppliers should, on request from an independent wine merchant, be able to set out how this strategy is managed within their company and understood by their own sales staff.

6 That training and information is being provided on these suppliers’ distribution management strategy to sales staff

7 That these suppliers should inform affected independent merchants if the distribution management strategy for a particular wine or spirit changes.

What’s in it for me?

Laurie Webster, Las Bodegas

“The guidelines have given us a good opportunity to underline what we are doing already to a large extent. The Harpers Debate has reminded us how important these issues are to suppliers and customers alike, and has been a catalyst for discussing our practices in a highly focused way.”

Olly Bartlett, Indigo Wine
“In these challenging times for retailers, it is important suppliers ensure they back up their independents by communicating strategy and any changes to the status of particular products clearly. These guidelines offer peace of mind for the merchant and of flexibility for the supplier. Independents continue to be one of our most important sectors and long may that continue.”

Stephen Finch, Vagabond Wines

“It sends a powerful signal to the suppliers what is a commonly shared set of expectations/grievances among indies; and it allows suppliers to make an informed decision with regards to how they serve the indie sector. Anything that benefits indies benefits the entire wine market.”

Rupert Pritchett, Taurus Wines
“The guidelines are essentially common sense and the better suppliers are pretty much abiding by them anyway. However, it is causing conversations to happen at other agents who have sharpened up their act accordingly.”

Philip Amps, Amps Fine Wines
“I have certainly seen a difference. All my suppliers are being more open and offering the information requested immediately. Sales people are more informed as to where particular lines are listed. The cynic in me feels they now recognise that being honest as to where it is listed straight up, is better than me shouting at them after I have listed it.”

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