The UK has the potential to be the world's leading market for on-line wine sales, according to everywine.co.uk, the latest addition to an already crowded UK wine e-tailer market.

Chris Dee, everywine's marketing director said: "Wine producers all over the world fight hard to gain a foothold in this most competitive of markets. If you combine this vast choice of wines with the UK's fast developing internet economy, it is clear that the UK can lead the way in this developing market."

The company says that while the total UK wine market stands at £5.5bn, only half that of the US, the spend on wine per head of population in the UK is more than double that of the US (US £40 per head, UK £91 per head).

In addition, the UK has none of the US's post-prohibition legal baggage, which makes it virtually impossible for internet wine-retailers to operate throughout the whole of the US. Due to the heavy regulations of the US wine market, with States restricting the sale and transport of alcohol across State lines, it is one of the most complex for e-commerce.

everywine.co.uk's arguments are backed up by Forrester Research which predicts that on-line grocery sales in Europe will surpass those of the US by 2003, driven by rapid expansion in the UK online retail sector.

According to Forrester, while only 0.1% of European retail sales are currently made on the internet, $1.2bn or 5% of all European retail sales will be made online by 2005.

Last year $92.3m worth of groceries were sold online by UK supermarkets, more than the rest of Western Europe combined. By 2005, Forrester predicts that 7% of UK sales will be made over the internet. Scandinavia will be close behind with 6%.

everywine.co.uk has been created by Booth's, the family owned UK supermarket chain, based in the north-west of the country. The company's aim is to give consumers access to virtually every wine held in storage in the UK, a figure it estimates to be 35,000 wines. This is twice the number of wines on offer from its nearest UK competitor and ten times the number on offer from the US's largest wine e-tailer, the newly merged wine.com.

everywine.co.uk will launch in Autumn 2000.