Richard Siddle comment April
Laurel and Hardy could have been on to something after all. Aficionados out there may remember the film, Towed in a Hole, in which Stan comes up with idea they decide to transform their life as fish salesmen by "cutting out the middle men" and catching as well as selling their own fish.
Similar supply chain issues are at the heart of many discussions taking place between in the wine and spirit world today, be it between producers and importers, distributors and agencies, retailers and suppliers.
The challenge is on for everyone to find ways to cut costs of entry to the UK, and find, however, small an extra few pence to put on everyone's bottom line. But all that is easier said than done, and whilst it may be the talk of the trade there are not that many "million dollar" ideas out there on the level of Laurel and Hardy's.
Rowan Gormley, however, at Naked Wines believes he has a model that can help small producers find not only a cost effective, but profitable way to do business in the UK. He is offering Naked
Wine customers the chance to buy wine direct from winemakers at ex-cellar prices, and cutting out all the middle men and "dead money" - as Gormley refers to it - along the way.
All the customer has to do is pay Naked Wines a transport charge of £4.99 per delivery and the wine is theirs. The winemaker has a guaranteed sale upfront, and Naked Wines takes a 5% cut for each transaction.
Sounds simple enough and the new offer is doing healthy business on the Naked Wines website.
Finding different ways of doing business - and increasingly persuading wine producers to carry on supplying wine to the UK - is clearly going to be an ongoing theme as the Chancellor takes more than his fair share of the drinks market in duty.
It is the topic of our Harpers Debate at this year's London International Wine Fair where Gormley will be on hand to explain his solution.
Not surprisingly Laurel and Hardy's cunning plan ends is chaos when they end up demolishing the boat they had bought to catch their profitable fish in before it has even left the dock. But we can all take inspiration from their efforts.