Borough Wines boosts kegged wines to beat Brexit pressure

Independent London wine retailer Borough Wines is rolling out a more premium selection of kegged wines to beat Brexit price pressure, as well as boosting its range of New World wines.

Borough Wines opened its Battersea branch in May this year

The premium range launched in kegs in the Turnham Green store in July but is set to roll out across its other stores, after seeing strong sales, owner Muriel Chatel told db at the retailer’s 15th anniversary tasting last week.

She said having the wines in keg as opposed to bottle meant she could keep the prices at around the £10 mark rather than £12 a bottle.

“There is pressure [due to Brexit], but there’s pressure everywhere, so although it is affecting us, we are trying hard not to show it,” she said. “We are fighting pressure and refuse to buy wine at 50 cents or 50 euros, as we don’t want to go there. We are used to being creative.”

The retailer’s kegged wine offer now comprises 12 still and one sparkling wine, including an Italian Pecorino and Montepulciano, as well as seven certified organic wines.

“People who are interested in kegged wines like the sustainability aspect so it clicked with us,” co-director Corinna Pyke added.

The New world selection has also been bumped up by around 10%, according to Chatel.

“We’ve started to import from New Zealand, Australia and the Lebanon, and are exploring Bulgaria, Hungary and Eastern Europe,” Chatel explained. “I feel strongly about Lebanese wines, which are very interesting. Lebanon isn’t too far away, but the wines are a bit undiscovered and it is unchartered territory, but we are starting to ship those too.”

The wines include a Fincher & Co. Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015, made by former Waitrose buyer Liam Steevenson MW and Marlborough veteran winemaker, Ben Glover, Angove Organic Shiraz Blend 2016, and a Domaine Des Tourelles White 2015 from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.

It is also doubling its range of craft and local spirits to around 200, and boosting its range of mixers and non-alcoholic drinks with a selection of ‘stand alone’ drinks, including Welsh botanical soda brand, Lurville.

Expansion

The retailer is also on the lookout to expand its retail presence across London, having spread into West London with the opening of its ninth branch in Battersea in May, followed by Turnham Green in July.

“It’s important to broaden our base,” Pyke told db. “People are used to us in Borough and Hackney and expected us go to Peckham – and we did look there and if we found the right site, we would. But these other areas such as Chiswick and Battersea came up and there is definitely a customer base for us there.”

However, Pyke added that it was the wholesale side of the business that was the new focus, and was set to expand “substantially” in the coming months.The growth is largely expected to come on the back of new partnerships with multiple venue customers, as the team look to partner with theatre bars, music venues, private members clubs and smaller outdoor events and pop-ups.

The growth is largely expected to come on the back of new partnerships with multiple venue customers, as the team look to partner with theatre bars, music venues, private members clubs and smaller outdoor events and pop-ups.

In January the wholesale business was rebranded to unite the gastro-pub, bar, venue and restaurants business with its Borough Wine Corner retail concessions, which is now overseen by group head of sales Nick Beck following the departure of former Enotria director of sales Kent Barker to Jascots in June. “These are quick turnover venues so kegged wine can work really well,” she said. “A lot of the bigger ones are tied into the huge companies, but there are more and more smaller independent food & drink and music events popping up in fields across the country,” she said.

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