Big opportunity for French wines in pubs, LGCF claims

Les Grand Chais de France, part of the GCF groupe, has launched a new range of its leading off-trade Calvet brand exclusively for the on-trade, after claiming there was a big opportunity to boost the level of French wines within the managed pub sector.

Speaking to db at the London Wine Fair this week, sales director UK of GCG’s on-trade & independent arm, Famille Helfrich, Chris Davies, said there was a huge opportunity for France to tap into this sector of the on-trade, which includes licensed pub companies such as Mitchells & Butlers, Marston’s and Enterprise Inns.

“There is a clear opportunity for a French brand within those businesses,” he told db. “If you look at a typical list from a managed pub, they have 175ml and 250ml by the glass and 750ml by the bottle for wines from California, Australia, and South Africa but when it comes to France, there’s a Châteauneuf-du-Pape and a Chablis that no-one has ever heard of that is £40 a bottle. When the average price of a meal is under £10, why would you buy that?”

He argued that although France is still number one in the on-trade, there were no French brands operating in that space.

“We’re eating out more, food and wine is more important and although there is a bit of uncertainty around Brexit, people aren’t afraid to go out more – the channels are still growing.”

As a result, the company is launching a new range of Calvet aimed solely for the on-trade. The range comprises an entry-level single variety range, C by Calvet, a Heritage de Calvet range to ‘help the consumer’ experiment with France’s appellations, and a top tier Bordeaux, called Cuvee 1818, which taps into the brand’s heritage, as it prepares to celebrate its 200th anniversary.

“The thirst for knowledge is coming back – there was a thirst for New World wines fifteen years ago, and they did a great job explaining it, but we are trying to demystify France, and we can do that as brand, but it has to be exclusive to the channel.”

As reported by db last month, it is also launching a ‘funky’ Merlot-based claret brand called Bdx to make Bordeaux more accessible which will target the on-trade and indie market.

Davies said that following “encouraging” talks at the London Wine Fair, it was considering extending the range to include a white Sauvignon Blanc.

“There are lots of pencil drawings of chateaux in the Bordeaux aisle, so this will stand out,” he noted.

The company is the largest independent supplier of French wines into the UK, with a strong off-trade portfolio, but it is set to boost it focus on the on-trade and indies after adopting a new channel strategy at the end of 2015. It split the business into five different arms covering the multiples, specialist discounters and e-commerce, convenience and cash & carry, the on-trade and independents, and Ireland. The on-trade and independent business, headed by Davies, has since adopted the name Famille Helfrich, named after the family-run company’s own properties and chateaux.

Family Helfrich, part of the GCF groupe launches world’s first Instagram wine list


The company has also rolled out its wine list on Instagram to bring it to life in a more interesting way, convey more information to its customers and support clients who sell wines to their customers from a handheld device while on the move.

Davies said that the first Instagram wine list was unusual in that it allowed customers to click on the image and drill through several layers to gain more information on its wines.

“The beauty of it is that we can have the properties, exclusives, tasting notes, description and article codes all on one site, which we can update instantly, and which customers can comment on and share,” he told db. “It is a very interactive tool for the sales team, and reaches out to the younger generation of the trade.”

Davies said the move demonstrated the company’s “commitment to straightforward and rapid-response customer service”.

“We are moving our wine list away from the standard wine industry printed paper format so that our customers and distributors have a system that is user-friendly, easy to navigate and bang up-to-date all the time,” he said.

Currently around 250 wines have been uploaded to the site, but Davies says that number is likely to double over the next year or so.

One Response to “Big opportunity for French wines in pubs, LGCF claims”

  1. Deborah Bridges says:

    I am looking to purchase another bottle of Bordeaux that was labeled for Downton Abbey. Bottled by Les Grands Chais de France. There is a quote on back label from Robert, Earl of Grantham. Can you help?

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