Oxford Wine Company expands with new shop

Independent wine merchant the Oxford Wine Company is set to expand its retail business with a new shop in the centre of Oxford.

The Oxford Wine Cafe opened its Jericho site in September 2015

The Oxford Wine Cafe opened its Jericho site in September 2015

The new shop will be located in the former independent shoe shop on Turl Street, which closed last month after 118 years, next to the Oxford brand of The Whisky Shop.

Owner and md Ted Sandbach told db that while the business had intended to concentrate on its wholesale business and wine café concept as these were more profitable and easier to manage than a traditional wine shops, the central location in the city had proved too good an opportunity to miss. Being so central would add a good balance to the retail portfolio and make it more accessible for tourists, and students and staff at Oxford University, he said.

“There are no wine merchants in the centre of Oxford, because of the high rents and one-way system, but I think we miss out a lot because tourists and student don’t necessarily know us on the Botley Road, so we need somewhere central,” he told db. “Lots of people come into Oxford for the day, and park at the Park & Ride, so we will immediately be accessible.”

The new shop, which is smaller than its other sites but benefits from a large cellar, will be managed by Mark Warde-Aldam, who Sandbach has lured from his position as a senior manager at Majestic in Summertown. It will stock the same range as the Botley Road shop.

It comes less than a year after the company shut its Cirencester store, a “disappointment” blamed on it being sited too far from the company’s Oxford heartland.

“[This time] we have kept it tight within Oxford and it is a brilliant balance,” he said. As well as the two shops and newly refurbished HQ and warehouse, the business runs cafes in the north and west of Oxford, in Summertown and Jericho, which cater for different clientele.

Combined annual turnover from the café and retail/wholesale businesses hit around £5.5 million in 2015, and Sandbach said 2016 had been a very strong year.

However, he warned that 2017 was likely to prove “tricky” with probable turbulence in the exchange rate following the triggering of Article 50 affecting prices and margins further, as well as the implementation of new business rates and pension. But he has vowed not to put up prices until April, arguing that it was retailers responsibility to absorb costs in the short term, following a strong year.

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