Moving further afield

French wine specialist Nicolas spent 2006 expanding - and goes into 2007 with plans for more.

The chain - owned by Oddbins' parent, French wine company Castel - has opened 14 new shops in the past year.

They are mainly in central London locations, including Angel, Fleet Street, Bayswater, Notting Hill and Knightsbridge, but also venture a little further afield to places such as Cobham in ­Surrey and Barnes in Middlesex.

Nicolas's key challenge for 2007 is to increase its profile outside London and it is eyeing spots in the south east, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff and Bristol with a view to opening shops there.

Although Nicolas made its name as a French specialist, with around 90 per cent of its range coming from France, plus a small offering from New World countries such as Australia, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa , last year it ­expanded its non-French wine range.

Castel bought the chain from Rémy Cointreau in 1988, when it had just a handful of stores in London, and it started expanding in 1993.

By 1998 it had 20 stores in central London. Expansion slowed after Castel bought Oddbins in 2002, until last year's growth. Nicolas was originally founded in 1822 - one year after the death of ­Napoleon I - in Paris.

With its French-led range and largely French staff, it built its reputation

on European specialism and good

service. In 2004 it reported sales growth of 7.14 per cent.

In early 2006 managing director Eudes Morgan joined Oddbins as joint head of retail but after a brief stint there he returned to Nicolas full-time.


31-33 Weir Road,

Wimbledon, London SW19 8UG

0208 944 4744

Parent company: Castel Group

Current size of estate: 33 shops

Year founded: 1822

Key personnel: managing director, Eudes Morgan; buying director, Alain Favereau

Number of employees: 105

Financial data: not available