The UK has maintained its lead as the world's largest "distance selling" wine market, according to figures published yesterday (2 November).

Over 10m cases of wine have been sold direct to consumers by mail, press and magazines, telephone and the Internet in the year to date, the International Wine Clubs Association said.

The sector accounts for almost 7% of the total UK wine market with revenues coming in at over GBP900m (US$1.7bn). The average price of a bottle of wine sold in the segment stands at GBP7.50, above the average price producers see throughout the UK off-trade.

International Wine Clubs Association chief executive Barry Sutton said: "These findings merely confirm what we have been saying for years. This rather hidden sector, with its excellent operators and aided by demographics and the additional Internet and telephone channels, is a key element in the trade, especially for wine producers wishing to find the best market for their more specialised and low volume brands."