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Two into three does go

Published:  18 January, 2007

With its airlocked security doors and its minimalist approach to wine ranging and customer service, my local Threshers has never been the most welcoming place to buy wine.

So I was slightly taken aback during a recent emergency dash into the shop when a sales assistant not only smiled at me, but began actively to seek conversation.

'If you don't mind my asking,' the guy said as he wrapped my bottle of Cono Sur Pinot Noir, 'why don't you buy three of those? It works out at 3.66 a bottle.' My answer reflected what I thought, at the time, was wrong with Threshers' shiny-happy new promotional tool: 'I live across the park and I don't want to lug three bottles all the way home. I also don't like the fact that if I buy a single bottle, it costs me more here than anywhere else.'

I was going to add that none of his other regulars would want to either, and that his employers were at risk of alienating them because off-licences are for popping into, not for stocking up but I didn't. The guy was so enthusiastic, it would have been like telling a child that Santa doesn't exist.

It would also, I have come to realise, have been incorrect. The blanket three-for-two promotion at Threshers now seems to be one of the retailer's brighter recent ideas. For one thing, it has galvanised the staff, as my encounter proves. For another, as the Wine Intelligence research revealed at the Harpers LIWSF debate suggests, it is popular with consumers. Harpers has been critical of much that has happened at the Thresher Group in the past few years, but in this instance credit is due to Alex Anson and his team, and we wish them well.