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M&S to revise and relaunch country categories

UK retailer Marks & Spencer will unveil a revamped Italian and Spanish wine range in May this year. The move will form part of a new approach to relaunch entire countries at strategic times of the year, rather than introduce new lines on an individual basis.

“We have changed our focus on how we deliver on newness,” said Jo Ahearne MW, winemaker at the retailer. “Now there will be a whole relaunch of a country at a specific time of year.”

May will see a revised range for Italy and Spain. Speaking of the latter she said: “I’m trying to get people kicking and screaming into something that isn’t Rioja, so I’ll be introducing a Mencia from Bierzo and a Godello from Monterrei, and I’ve finally got the Garnacha Blanca I wanted, which will be Wine of the Month.”

She also confirmed M&S would be bringing a Manto Negro from Mallorca and rosé from Navarra.

A new Italian range will be unveiled at the same time, and will tie in with the M&S dine-in concept for May, which will be exclusively Italian food.

Ahearne said she has focused on indigenous varieties for the relaunch, such as Falanghina, Cortese and Barbera, as well as a Nero d’Avola red and rosé. She also said that the retailer’s “Chianti range has been redone, and virtually all our suppliers have changed,” and that she had found “some really rich succulent Primitivo,” while a new Soave would be introduced.

As for packaging innovations, Andrew Bird, wine category manager for M&S, said that the retailer would be putting three of its French vin de pays wines into PET 75cl bottles complete with a sticker to highlight that the format is 89% lighter than the glass equivalent and shatterproof.

He also recorded that M&S had a “very successful” 2010 and now has almost 5% of the UK off-trade wine market.

Patrick Schmitt, 31.01.2011

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