Chris Mercer

Oddbins' plight bad news for wine in the UK

By: Chris Mercer - 4 March 2011 15:28

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We've added some meat to the metaphorical bones of our Oddbins coverage today, with what we consider to be solid sources saying that the retailer is facing possible administration.  

The gist of it is that Oddbins is running out of cash, owes suppliers money and is locked in a potentially-costly court battle with its previous owner, Castel Freres. The outcome of the court battle, in particular, could be key to the retailer's future, as we understand it.

Of course, we're not at the endgame just yet and Oddbins' management has maintained that several options are open to it, including, again as we understand it, restructuring and outside investment.

The retailer's plight, however, is another sad chapter for the UK's independent wine trade. Three quarters of wine is sold by the country's big four supermarkets.

Added to that, huge increases in duty tax on wine, rent rises and a tough economy have played havoc with wine sales over the last couple of years. The forecast for the sector is not much better.

Yet, Oddbins claims to have the highest average spend on wine - around GBP8 per bottle - among the UK's major wine retailers. The UK-wide average spend per bottle is around GBP4.50.

The industry is forever talking about wanting consumers to "trade up". In that context, Oddbins' struggle is a bitter blow.

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