Blog: Olly WehringRecession fails to dent spirits at Harrods

Olly Wehring | 9 September 2009

In another insight into how the recession is affecting drinks sales in the UK, just-drinks has learnt that luxury retailer Harrods has seen wine and spirits sales in 2009 ahead of 2008.

Wine and spirits sales at London-based Harrods, which is about as posh as retailing gets anywhere in the world, rose in the first half of 2009, compared to the same period of 2008.

just-drinks managed a snatched conversation with Alistair Viner, the Harrods wine and spirits buyer for the last 13 years, at the launch of Courvoisier de L'Essence last night.  

We were surprised to hear of the division's success, given the pitiful state of the UK economy and number of bankers lamenting the loss of lavish bonuses.

Viner argued that a few big orders can make all the difference at a place like Harrods, intimating that this may have made the difference in the first six months.

The retailer's rise also backs up a growing argument that those in the middle of the market, rather than at the top and bottom, have been hit worst by the recession - as the head of Pernod Ricard UK told just-drinks yesterday.   

Viner refused to get carried away, however. "The second half of the year is crucial, especially for our Champagne sales," he said.

Harrods will have exclusivity on L'Essence de Courvoisier sales for the next six weeks, before the GBP1,800 per bottle Cognac is launched worldwide.

Later this year, the retailer is planning to launch a Scotch whisky "trail", publicising some of the best single malts around, including those from Glenmorangie, Bowmore and Laphroaig.

Chris M.


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