London trade boosts Liberty Wines’ sales

UK importer Liberty Wines has reported strong sales in December, on the back of sales rising across the London on- and off- trade.

Friday 11 October 2013Liberty Wines, Clapham.Managing director, David Gleave

London trade helped boost Liberty’s sales in December, md David Gleaves said.

Revenues across the UK and Ireland was in double-digit growth in December, the company said, with London up 11% compared to the same period the previous year.

Premium Italian and Australian wines did particularly well, managing director David Gleave MW pointed out, up 36% and 33% respectively, with sales of English sparking also rising, which he said largely predated Liberty’s acquisition of the Bride Valley and Hush Heath wine estates.

“It has been a chicken and egg with the English sparkling increase – sales are doing well but even like-for-like with our existing producers are growing strongly. Hush Heath came in at the later end of the year, so we are not seeing the full impact of that yet,” he said.

The company has around 55-65% of its sales come from the on-trade, with independents contributing around 30%, and the rest high street.

“London is strong in the on-trade but generally good in the on trade and the independent all around the country,” Gleave said. “Independents make up around 30% or our overall business and they’re doing very well at the moment. Although the number of new opening has slowed, they are focusing on quality and selling premium wines, and that is where the growth is.”

Gleave noted that there were likely to be challenges over the year, not least the uncertainty about foreign exchange, the global economy, and the threat of a ‘Brexit’, but said the company had weathered similar difficulties before.

“The momentum gained by strong sales in December and a record attendance at our January portfolio tasting builds on the foundations we put in place by investing in our team, systems and portfolio [last year]. We are set fair for continued future growth,” he said. “We’ve made some big changes, now it’s about the smaller margins – we’ll be looking at the smaller parts of our business to see where we can improve.”

Chief operating officer Gary Wyatt added the company had made “strong progress” during 2015 and would continue to fine-tune its operations and logistics.

Last year the company bolstered its customer service, logistics and distribution arm with the appointment of a new head of operations as part of investment in growth with started in 2013, with the move to new premises and the implementation of a new IT system.

Liberty Wines, which sells wine into the on-trade, the independent off-trade and the high street, was named On-Trade Supplier of the Year at The Drinks Business Awards 2015.

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