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Wine Rack set for further store openings

UK high street wine retailer Wine Rack is to open eight new shops this summer, taking its portfolio up to 30.

Speaking at the first Wine Rack press tasting since its takeover by independent wholesaler Venus Wine & Spirit in November 2009, chairman Laki Christoforou told the drinks business: “We hope to have 30 stores open by the end of the year, and will be opening eight new shops throughout the summer, starting in May."

“It helps that Wine Rack is part of a larger company and is able to use Venus’ buying power and logistics side of the business to allow it to grow and compete on the high street," Christoforou admitted.

The company will be limiting its expansion to “affluent” areas in London and the South East, and the new sites will carry the same branding as the current shops.

“We expanded our fine wine range considerably last year and are where we want to be with it. All our new stores will have fine wine cabinets and will offer a much larger fine wine range than the old Wine Racks," Christoforou said.

Outside of the planned expansion, Christoforou’s main focus in 2011 will be on improving the Wine Rack website, which is due to relaunch in March, allowing customers the option of buying wine online with free local delivery.

The website also plans to publish online price comparisons with supermarkets, to show that they are often cheaper on price than the retail giants.

“Our prices are good all year round – we’re better value than the supermarkets," Christoforou said, but he conceded that the old Wine Rack three-for-two offer was misleading, adding: "Three-for-two was the first thing I scrapped when I took over. It was a con. It was basically lying to the customer, and they know better than that. They know a standard bottle of Möet doesn’t cost £40. I don’t do business like that."

Watch our video interview with Laki Christoforou here

Lucy Shaw, 07.02.2011

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