Asda becomes ‘proactive’ with suppliers to broaden range
Retailer Asda has broadened its wine collection with a selection of Grower Champagnes, regional Australian wine and ‘second tier’ regional ranges as it works more closely with suppliers to “fill in the gaps”.
Speaking to the drinks business at its autumn tasting last week, Clive Donaldson, director of beverages at Asda’s IPL International Procurement and Logistics unit, who heads up its private label sourcing, that the “evolution” of the range was continuing to build on the change introduced in the spring.
“We have ambitions to have certain things on our shelves and sometimes you’ve got to find the right supplier, it’s got to be the right fit for you,” he explained. As a result of this, the retailer has become more proactive in working with suppliers to find the right wine and style.
He said: “We’ve stepped that up certainly on things like privately label projects and being a little bit intentional. As retailers, you can’t expect suppliers to come to you, so we are now being a bit more proactive to going into suppliers and having more creative conversations.”
“I think that’s when you really deliver some really powerful value,” he added, and not just at £5-£6 level that Asda is well-known for, “but also in delivering value at the £10, £15 and £20 level”.
“We think we get better wine on the shelves when we work with them and collaborate [together] agree on a project and bring it through to fruition,” he said.
He pointed to a joint project with Treasury Wine on the exclusive-to-Asda Rosemount label, which had taken advantage of the “great value” coming out of Australia following the Chinese tariffs and a certain amount of “over-production”.
“We’ve used that to really get our hands on some top-class parcels of regional fruit, broadening our range, so we’ve got a really good Adelaide Hills Chardonnay (£12) and a really good McLaren Vale Caberne (£10),” he explained.
Other collaborations included work on textural white wines following a very difficult 2021 vintage that has taken a couple of years to “right itself”. It has added a Languedoc Blanc under the Extra Special label (£8), and the Extra Special French Viognier from Grandes Serres (£8) that was “very carefully put together”, Donaldson noted.
“Whilst it is Vin de France, we’ve blended some barrel age Viognier from the Rhone with some of the sort of bright, firm fruit to create a style that encompasses all of its best in Viognier,” he said. “So it’s not just like buying stuff off shelf, we want to work with people.”
“We want to move our range forward on – sometimes that transformational, sometimes just organic. Our ambition is to have something in the range for every customer. And that for us, we’ve got some great value products in the range, but you know, we’re always trying just to stretch our range up a little and broaden it.”
The retailer has boosted its range of Grower Champagnes, to provide a broader range of options at sub-£30 a bottle, which will be flagged up on point-of-sale material.
Donaldson explained: “With some of the challenges, the branded champagne and Grand Marques have gone up in price, and that’s opened up an opportunity for some really good Grower Champagne that we’re starting to see it on wine list and independents, and we want to try and bring that to mainstream customers.
“Grower Champagnes are very much an expression of an area compared to Grand Marques, which blend into the house style across the region, so once you get the terroir coming through and Champagne, which is lovely story to tell.”
“So if you’re going to pay £26-28, what you get an amazing individual sort of Champagne.”
It has added three different styles comprising; Veuvre Oliver ‘Secret de Cave’ Champagne from Champenoise des Grands Vin (RRP: £28), a Pinot Meunier- based ‘gourmand” champagne with more than five years in the cellar; Berthelot Piot (RRP: £26), another Pinot Meunier-based champagne, but one that is bright and fruity (“A party champagne that is just so drinkable” Donaldson said); and Thierry Blondel Premier Cru Champagne ((RRP: £28), a Pinot Noir-dominant Champagne from cool north-facing slopes in the Marne valley near Festigny, producing a “tight, elegant, nervy and mineral” Champagne, according to Donaldson.
It has also broadened it own label range with some regional wines that provide an additional tier for customers, such as a cooler climate Shiraz from the Limestone Coast/Clare Velley, an Extra Special Uco Valley Malbec and an Extra Special Gavi di Gavi (RRP: £9.50), to provide a “further elevation” from its Extra Special Gavi.
“Building on what we have to build our wine credibility,” he said.