Key to convenience are formats, gifting and food link-ups, The Co-op says

The biggest opportunities for retailing wine in the convenience channel lie in offering different formats, as well as putting a greater emphasis on gift to make it easier for shoppers, according to the head of BWS at The Coop.

The Co-op in Old StreetBWS category trading manager Simon Cairns told db that historically, they had always followed what the multiples have done. “But as convenience continues to grow, that gives me the confidence to say, maybe 750ml isn’t always the right solution, particularly for a mid-week convenience store, so what else can we look at to bring wine in the right serve size to customers for that more mid-week consumption.”

Cairns said new analysis of basket data was enabling the convenience retailer to gauge the level of sales of cards and bags bought with bottles of wine, which in turn was influencing merchandising to make gift solutions “more obvious” in stores.

However the biggest opportunity was in bringing together fresh food and wine. “It is about how we use the halo of wine to help drive sales of fresh food as well,” he said, admitted The Co-op didn’t do enough of this at the moment, largely due a “disconnect” in the logistics of stock delivery.

“That, for me, is the biggest opportunity to go after, in terms of how we make selling wine in a convenience store truly convenient – by offering that solution.”

The retailer has already seen overall sales growth of 2.0% according to the latest market share from KantarWorldpanel, which saw The Co-op “cement its recent revival” in the 12 weeks to 19 June, after heralding a full year of increasing sales.

Wine sales were ahead of this, Cairns said, with value up 2.3% and volumes up 3.6%, inspired largely by the new EDLP pricing and range change.

Range review

In March, The Co-op added 33 new wines and adopted more tailored ranges for different types of stores in its estate, with store types clustered by areas, shopper mission and customer profiles, rather than purely by size. The idea behind it was to strip out duplication and remove confusion in the aisle and cater for different shoppers.

Around 25% of wines in the store were part of the tailored cluster, he said.

“We are starting to see some clear trends coming through following the range change,” Cairns said. “It was about putting the right range into stores types to suit different shopper missions.”

Fair Trade wines has grown 28% like-for-like, and mini bottles are also up 30% over the same period, with strong growth also coming from Old World Wines, despite the traditional bias towards the USA, New World in the “brand-reliant” convenience sector, he said.

“By looking at what we call the more ‘progressive’ stores, where shoppers are looking for something a bit more esoteric than the normal convenience offer, we worked on our Italian and French wines to bring those points of difference to the range. France is up 15% and Italy 5%, and Spain also up 15%, so that is very encouraging,” he said.

Cairns noted that growth was coming primarily from the £5 price points, but the £6.99 price bracket was also beginning to grow.

“An example for us would be that Truly Irresistible post-range relaunch, is starting to perform really well, with likes like Fiano, Gavi and Barbera seeing sales increases of nearly 100%,” he said.

“That we are growing considerably ahead of the market gives me the confidence that the range is doing what I want it to do,” he added.


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