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Sainsbury’s holds off BWS refresh as it hints at autumn innovation

Sainsbury’s has added only a handful of new wines at its Spring tasting this week – but hinted at greater innovation to follow in the autumn.

Only eight new wines have been added to the range, it revealed this week – two white wine, three rosé and three red – along with three new premium Belgian ciders. But technical manager and winemaker Richard Maltby told db there was likely to be “some interesting stuff” out in the autumn and to “Watch this space”.

The additions are set to primarily boost the mid to premium end, with two premium rosés from Provence, Baron Gassier Sainte Victoire 2015 (RRP: £10) and Bandol Rosé Ad Mare 2015 (RRP: £15) from winemaker Catherine Huguenin, as well as a Taste the Difference Rioja Rosado from Bodegas Muriel. One of the largest family-owned wineries in the Rioja Alvesa, it already supplies the retailer with its TTD Vinedos Barrihuelo Rioja Crianza and Blanco.

It has also added Campo Viejo Viura-Tempranillo Blanco 2015, an exclusive new Picpoul l’Ormarine 2015, from Thau lagoon (RRP: £8) and three new premium ciders – Straasen Cidre Grand Cru, Cuvee Rose and Brut – from the Aubel Valley in Belgium, which will retail for around £8-£10/ 750ml. It has also  reformulated all three of its own brand vermouths, and revamped four of its mixers.

Category manager Elizabeth Newman said Spain was a big focus for Sainsbury’s customers, and a country it overtrades in, with a 23% market share. “For many of our competitors, Spain is in decline but our range success – it rose 1.8% year-on-year – has been driven by the premium end of the market, helping us achieve a positive growth differential of more than 10%,” she said.

Other areas doing particularly well included Argentina – Malbec rose 73% year-on-year, with Pinot Noir also seeing growth of around +17% ahead of the market, Prosecco, up 27% year-on-year and Cava, up 7%, she noted.

As reported by db in February, the retailer committed itself to phasing out multi-buys across its stores from August, and the BWS category have already adopted simpler round pound pricing across the vast majority of its range. But Newman confirmed it would continue to run “occasional” ‘buy 6, save 25%’ promotional offers in the category, noting that data showed it helped drive trial of new wine and encourage customers to trade up and stock up for special occasions, without impacting regular wine buying.

Changes to the team

The tasting also revealed a number of changes to the BWS team in the last few months. In April, Georgie Collet joined Sainsbury’s from PLB, where she was national account manager for Sainsbury’s and Tesco, to take on the South Africa, South America, Spain and Portugal category, following the departure of Michelle Smith. Smith joined South Africa’s second largest supermarket chain, Pick n Pay in February. Other changes see Julie Buckley overseeing France and Fine Wine, following the departure of Stephen Smith, while winemaker Ryan Clarke has also left the company.

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