Drinks retailing trade is in rude health, latest figures reveal

Soaring sales of lager, ale, gin and sparkling wine have helped the off-trade BWS market grow by 2.3% to £16.1 billion in the past year (Nielsen, year to April 22, 2017).

Brits continue to forgo the pub in favour of drinking at home and spent an extra £363 million on alcoholic drinks in the retail trade compared with the previous year. Nielsen analyst Helen Stares said: “The growth is significant. This time last year we were looking at a much more modest growth figure of 0.7%, so value is accelerating. At the same time volume, which had shown a small decline of 0.6% a year ago, has moved back into the black, up 0.8%.”

The headline statistic is that the much-maligned lager category has overtaken sparkling wine to be the biggest contributor of value growth in the market. Growth is coming from across a wide range of categories and the new statistics should provide a shot in the arm for the trade after pessimism greeted the Brexit vote and the increase in duty in the March Budget.

Retailers are bullish across various channels and expect drinks retailing to continue to thrive in the year ahead. Conviviality chief executive Diana Hunter told DRN: “I feel hugely confident in drinks retailing because of the skills and capabilities of my team. I have a great, hardworking team.

“When you are in a challenging industry people innovate and think diff erently, and the potential for entrepreneurial business in this industry is very strong.” Dynamism abounds and retailers are intent on driving value into the market.

Asda BWS category director Drew Tiffin said: “We have seen growth from a total food perspective, but BWS has outperformed the business and the performance has been strong.”

The retailer is adding 100 new craft beers to its range, overhauling its craft spirits section and cutting 25% of its wine range to make way for new premium off erings as it seeks to boost growth.

Jessica Hutchinson, managing director of Vindependents, an agency which represents a number of independent wine merchants in the UK, said: “The sales of all of our members are massively buoyant and they all seem to be doing well. We have enquiries from people thinking of setting up wine shops quite frequently now.”