Exclusive research: indies look to Old World for growth

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European wines made from indigenous varieties are providing independent wine merchants with much more scope for growth compared with the New World’s offering.


That’s according to the Harpers Indies Uncovered research, which found 77% of independents are looking to sell more Old World wines in 2013, and 70% hope to shift more native varieties.


Sparkling wine and Champagne is also a major growth opportunity, according to 71% of those polled - while France, Italy and Spain were revealed as the top-three most-important wine-producing countries.


Some 59% said they expected to sell more New World wine this year, while four in ten merchants identified low-alcohol wines as a category they will expand in 2013.


The results were compiled following personal interviews with more than 120 independent retailers across the UK, making the project the largest of its kind to be undertaken within the independent sector.


It shows consumers are turning to their local independent for higher-priced wines and personal recommendations, with 34% of indies maintaining an average bottle price of £8-£10 and 37% recording an average bottle price above £10.


Slow and steady growth characterises the sector, with turnover staying the same in the last 12 months for 27% of those surveyed. Ninety-one per cent of independents also reported that the amount of stores in their estate has stayed the same.


The majority of sales are going through traditional sources, with 46% of turnover coming from shop retail. However, the digital channel is growing in significance, with 15.6% of turnover made online compared with 3% last year.


For 74% of those polled, more wine will be sold online in 2013, while 59% said it was “very likely” that more indies will adopt digital media strategies.


Indies interviewed also identified Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio as the best-selling varieties for 2013. Demand for aromatic varieties including Alabriño and Riesling is also expected to grow.


Yearly tax and duty increases were found to be the biggest challenge facing the sector in the coming months, closely followed by supplier price increases and reduced consumer spending.


Full results and analysis of the Indies Uncovered research can be found in the latest issue of Harpers, out today.

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