Online wine merchant wineandco.com has decided to close down its international operations to focus solely on its core home market of France.

"The company has been running for a year and we are learning what works and what doesn't work. We have decided to withdraw our international operations so we can build up a French market which has been the real market success," said Seth Lewis, whom was general manager of wineandco's UK B2B operations until last Friday when the company ceased trading.

He blames stiff competition from traditional retailers and the difficulties of convincing UK consumers of the benefits of online shopping as the key factors for the company's demise.

"The UK market is very complicated and diffuse, with retailers, specialist suppliers and established wine merchants with generations and generations of experience fighting to capture the consumer's interest. In the cold light of day, we asked ourselves does the international market really need another wine supplier? We decided our goal was to become market leader in France," Lewis said.

During August/September wineandco's French sales hit well above FF500,000. He declined to comment on the sales figures of the international operations.

Wine lovers in the UK, Germany and Italy, however, will still be able to access the website and order wine. Wineandco's headquarters in Aix-en-Provence will supply the wine. The delivery time will be extended from seven days to ten days and only special fine wine offers will be available to begin with, Lewis admitted.

Only a handful of redundancies have been made with the UK operation's eight staff the highest casualty rate. Most staff have been either integrated into the French operations or moved on to other B2C.com companies wineandco said.