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Tesco flexes muscles

Published:  23 July, 2008

With most of the multiple retailer's wine-buying teams shrinking if not yet completely disbanding (see Harpers,
16 September), Tesco's wine-buying team appears to have returned to full strength after a difficult period.

The revitalised team was out in force at the company's autumn press tasting last Thursday (15 September). Among the buyers present were Sarah Turner, who has returned from maternity leave to work three days a week with responsibility for Italy, Spain, Portugal, Eastern Europe and fortified wines; Graham Nash, who has moved from looking after Tesco Calais to become product development manager for France and South Africa; Andy Gale, the category technical manager who oversees quality control and is also now looking after wines from the United States and Germany, as well as beers and spirits; and Ann-Marie Bostock, who was Tesco's category manager for wine and is now back in the department following her bereavement.

Phil Reedman MW, the company's Adelaide-based Australia, New Zealand and South America buyer also flew in for the tasting, and he told Harpers: We've had a full category review. In the 4-6 category, we found that we didn't need so many Chardonnays, for example, so we've cut back on them to bring in more premium products such as the de Bortoli wines [Gulf Station Semillon/Sauvignon and Chardonnay; 7.99 each].'

Despite these Australian moves, however, the company's wine category manager, Jason Godley, said that reports that Tesco was drastically reducing its range of wines were unfounded. He told Harpers that the company had been researching its consumers through feedback sessions' and Clubcard data. As a result, the range had gone from 750 to 720, with a strengthening and deepening of the range above the 7 price band.

We found that we have plenty of choice at 4-5 but not much depth at over 7, so we have invested in new premium areas,' said Godley.

There was more information on the range review in the introduction to the tasting sheet handed out at the event: What we clearly identified was that we were overranged between the 4 and 6 price points and did not have enough choice in the 6-10 price bracket,' the company says. Eliminating duplication across country, variety and price has allowed us not only to unclutter our range but has also given us room for more select wines from smaller producers.'

In the 6-10 band, Tesco has added 37 new lines plus 10 in the 10-20 range.

Also, 85 existing lines will be given greater distribution.