Les Grands Chais de France targets channel growth following restructure

Leading French wine supplier Les Grands Chais de France is looking to build growth in independents and convenience stores following its adoption of a new channel strategy.

Les Grands Chais de FranceThe UK arm of the French business adopted a new strategy at the end of last year, splitting the business into five different channel covering the multiples, specialist discounters and ecommerce, convenience and cash & carry, the on-trade and independents, and Ireland.

New md Mark Kears, who stepped up to the role after eight years heading up the company’s off-trade business, said the new “paradigm shift” in approach,  was already making it easier to react to the “seismic” changes happening across in the industry.

“The big questions is how to adapt to the changes  which was still evolving – ours is to protect our core business and grow. Convenience, for example is a great area for us, where the brands are able to increase,” he said. “It is a evolution, to fine-tune it and be in line with a challenging market place.”

“Each has a channel strategy of its owner overriding and each retailer within the multiples also has its own strategy – and it is making a significance difference as each can focus and adapt to that particular market place.”

Better segregation of the sector has allowed LGCF to build its business with the independents and convenience channels, Chris Davies, sales director UK on trade & independents, explained The on-trade and independent trade currently accounts for around 8% of the total volume in the UK, but is already seeing growth.

“There is always anxiety from retailers – how do you ring-fence what you’re offering? But we have deliberately structured the team and the portfolio I such a way that wines in the on-trade and independents are ring-fenced – but they can stock some of the wines in the off-trade channel. But it really is a one-way valve,” he told db.

The consolidated logistics in France have made their offer stronger, he said, and buying in the portfolio gives the company “enormous strength” to talk to the independents and the on-trade in a way it admits it couldn’t do before. “If a customer or independent with only one or two stores can order a Jura, Fitou, Loiur or Muscadet, we can now put it on a half-pallet,” he said.

This means that customers can include smaller orders of more unusual or harder to sell wines – three or four cases as opposed to a half or full pallet – enabling them to offer greater choice.

“We are giving customers the opportunity to experience with new – or rediscover old – wines from France,” he said.

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