|Top Merchants blog|
|Wednesday, 02 May 2012 15:57|
Hal Wilson, managing director of Cambridge Wine Merchants, shares his views on why independent retailers must work together.
"I think it's time for independent retailers to work together to set ourselves apart from the multiples and grocers, and promote ourselves as the dynamic group of businesses we are. Because we are a group of 600 or so businesses spread around the country, sometimes in competition with each other commercially, we rarely think about how many core values we share. Quality selection, superior service, education and social responsibility are all at the heart of what makes us special and gives us the ability to attract a great clientele of wine lovers.
Wouldn't it be great if we could communicate those core values to the wine-buying public collectively, so that independents are promoted as the fun yet professional places they are, rather than the snobbish, scary places many imagine them to be? We all care passionately about our product ranges and engage much more closely with our customers on a personal level than larger retailers can.
We know that our customers expect honest, professional guidance about the best wine to buy for a given occasion and, by giving great service, we turn every bottle we sell into a celebration, rather than simply an alcohol beverage. Collectively, we offer an astonishing selection of wines, beers and spirits - surely the largest range on the planet - most of which is available for delivery to customers nationally within a few days.
Even if we sell 5% by volume, we must offer 95% of the wine range, and we make the UK wine industry vibrant and interesting to winemakers around the globe. We punch massively above our weight in certain categories and price points.
With alcohol consumption being viewed as the next social and health problem requiring government intervention, don't we need more than ever to argue that socially responsible companies like ours play an important part in any changes in the licensed trade? We can't afford to be on the outside of a debate that affects our businesses so deeply.
I can see the Harper's Top Merchants programme addressing many of these issues and offering us an opportunity to work together with wineries, agents, importers and journalists to create an Independents Day that really benefits our trade."