Indie wine retailer Friarwood to open second London shop

Independent London wine merchant Friarwood Fine Wines is set to open its second London site next month, as it ramps up its retail presence.

The new Wimbledon Village shop will be three times bigger than its Parson’s Green site (pictured above)

The wine retailer, which has been eyeing up retail opportunities in well-heeled areas of South West London for around a year, is opening a new shop in Wimbledon Village at the start of October.

Md Ben Carfagnini said it had taken longer than expected to find the right site, but it had been important to secure a shop in the right location, which would have the same village feel as the existing Parsons Green site and cater for high-end clientele.

Speaking to db a year ago, he said the focus for the first 18 months has been to boost profitable, look at expanding the portfolio and introduce a new tech-focused strategy across its wholesale and retail business to make it more agile, responsive and customer-focused – but that he then intended to build the retail side.

“The retail scene within London is a very quiet market, and there is still a huge demand that is still untapped for quality products combined with a limitless supply of knowledge from staff and help pairing wines – it is a very personal service and a huge relationship building exercise,” he said at the time.

Today, Carfagnini added to db that although the company is predominantly a wholesaler,  supplying hotels, restaurants and private members clubs “and always will be”, retail formed an important and growing side of the business, accounting for around 20% of total sales. He is hoping to see grow to around 30% once the new shop is up and running, and has plans to expand the retail business further, with more shops added over the next few years.

“Retail is a large part of the business and we want to continue that. We are mainly a wholesaler and always will be, but it is good to have an additional income stream,” he said. “We see a huge growth in sales figures, which have been consistent for about three years at around 30-40%.”

The retailer rolled out its first e-commerce operation last November, less than a year after launching its first website, and sales have performed well. There has also been strong growth of sales outside the London area, rising from 10-20% a few years ago to around 30-40% now.

Friarwood Fine Wine’s team

Building the portfolio

The new shop will be around three times larger than the Parsons Green shop, which Carfagnini said would allow the company to expand its portfolio, as well as tailor the range for the clientele at that location.

“We have up to 1,000 wines now and are still growing, so we really needed the space,” he told db. “We want to have a range that suits everyone’s needs but has quality behind it.“

Since Carfagnini took over the shop in February 2015 following the death of Friarwood’s founder Peter Bowen, the young team have concentrated on expanding the range, which was previously heavily dominated by high end wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy. “We will always have that but we wanted to develop other regions to the same degree,” Carfagnini said.

During that time, Friarwood’s head of buying Auriane D’Aramon has added wines from the Loire, the Rhone, Bulgaria, and Super Tuscan wines, as well as looking to the New World, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Canada and South Africa. 

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