Asda slashes wine range by 25% and adds more premium lines

Asda is slashing around 25% of its wine range as it looks to rebalance the portfolio and add more higher-priced and premium wines.

The UK retailer has undertaken one of the largest reviews of its BWS in years, stripping out 200 wines and adding in more variety at the £7-10 bracket and the top end. The range, which was last reviewed in 2015, now comprises around 600 wines in total.

BWS category director Drew Tiffin said the changes had been built on the work done two years ago, when Asda stripped out 8% of its wines and simplified its own label range, introducing the Wine Atlas range to tempt customer to explore different regions and varieties. The key to the change was not the number of the lines cut, but in the overall shape of the revamped portfolio, which marked a “sea-change” for the retailer, he said.

“This is the big year for wine, where we’ve pulled back on lines, but the key to this is that we won’t be reducing choice, we are reducing duplication, as we are adding in lines too,” he told db.” In terms of a reduction, it’s a 25% range reduction we’re seeing in store.”

“We’ve been fat in the lower end and mid-tier and light in the higher tier and more premium wines,” Tiffin explained to db. “And although we can switch customer from one Pinot Grigio to another to another, the reality is that we can give customers exactly what they want with a fewer number of skus while offering choice and credibility at the higher end that we traditionally have.”

“Everyone accept that the days of aggressive high/low especially around own brands are reducing, if not gone altogether, and we really want our customers to see the value in what they are buying. So we’ve worked hard to get an improved Extra Special range, with nine new wines,” he said. “There’s been a step-change in quality.”

According to wine buying manager Ed Betts, there is a lot of interest coming out of Italy at the moment, which the new wines are tapping into. “It is more than just Pinot Grigio and Verdicchio, we are using the opportunity to bring a bit of choice to the range and some premium wines, whether that’s a Super Tuscan from Morellino di Scansano in the Extra Special range (RRP: £7.48) or a Lambrusco Rosso in a Prosecco-style bottle which is a very good example of how we can take the choice and do something a bit different with it. We’re excited about it as it will introduce people to a different style, so there is huge potential for it.”

Other additions include a Valpolicella Ripasso (RRP: £8.98), Vernaccia di San Gimignano (RR: £7.48), a Barolo and a Chianti Pasco Riserva (RRP: £5.98) in the Extra Special range, and a Kakapo Chardonnay, Reisling, Sauvignon blend from New Zealand (RRP: £6.98).

“It is exciting – things like the Super Tuscan we couldn’t entertain that in the range before, but because of the reduction in duplication, we can create more impact to impact choice and can take that in a different direction,” Betts said.

Part of the refresh includes the Wine Atlas range which was introduced two years ago. This has been revamped to add in more wines, while others have been moved into the core Extra Special premium own label range. “It is a range that is all about a sense of discovery, so it needs to be constantly new and innovative,” Betts notes.

Betts pointed to the Wine Atlas Carménère , which had proved so popular that the team have added a more premium version into the Extra Special range from Colchagua (RRP: £5.98).

“We wanted to take the learnings and apply those,” Betts said. “We’ve listened to customers and where there have tweaked, they is not a major change in direction. Customers love the idea of it, and like to explore wines and the quality is fantastic, so it’s a continuation of the theme.”

Other additions to the Wine Atlas range include a Bonarda, Cococciola, a Fiano and a Torrontes.

The team are also adding a selection of cases of branded and exclusive wine in larger stores “where space allows”. Tiffin admitted this was a “bold move”, but one that is in line with the way customers shop.

“It will be in countries where we know we can get the volume – for example Italy, Australia and Argentinian Malbec – and where there is that demand and the brands can accomplish that volume. It is quite a bold move, but we know that customers are willing to pick up six bottles at any one time based on the activities we’ve had in the market place,” Tiffin explained. “The real challenge will be in getting this right, and we’re going to learn a lot. We’re going in big and bold but in some store we won’t be bold enough, in otherw er might give them more than they want or need – but that’s always the way.”

It is also adding around 80 craft beers to its beer aisle, and added in a selection of craft gins, rye whiskies, vermouths and tequilas in an overhaul of its spirits range.

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