Accolade sets its stall out

Accolade Wines has set its stall out, 10 months after Constellation Brands sold off its international wine division to an Australian private equity group.

The company boasts such well known brands as Hardy’s, Banrock Station, Kumala, Stowells, Echo Falls, Turner Road, Gran Tierra and Stone’s Ginger Wine.

James Lousada, commercial general manager, Europe, said the company sells 435,000,000 bottles worldwide.  The UK alone accounts fort 19.9 million nine-litre cases followed by Australia with 9.8m cases and mainland Europe with 3m cases.

The company has just launched its WineNation UK Report 2011. It predicts that the average bottle of wine in the UK will break the £5 (€6, US$7) by July 2012.  Since 2002, 80% of the rise of a bottle of wine has been due to tax increases. The sub-£4 is declining but Lousada warned: “We cannot forget the £4 and under sector is still 40% of the market. It is the consumer’s bread and butter. So at a time of rising costs and pressure on prices, it is crucial for brands to innovate and invest so we bring these consumers along with us as the prices do increase.”

Ian Anderson, Accolade’s director of category development and insight, said the company (including, pre-Accolade) claims to have invested £6m over five years in understanding the consumer. It polls 40,000 people in the UK who drink wine and segments them as to their attitudes, knowledge and how much they spend.

The report also revealed that wine is falling behind total sales in the UK on-trade for the first time in five years.

Total alcohol sales are down 2.8% in the last 12 weeks compared to the same period last year. Total wine sales are down 5.6%. In food-led premises, total alcohol is up 6.7%, wine is down 3.4%. The report puts the fall down to new products such as the growth of the cocktail market, easier drinking ales and fruit ciders.

The third major finding was that independent convenience stores are losing out to other forms of retailers. People looking for value are heading for discounters such as Aldi and Lidl while c-stores run by the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s are doing well as they have “significant chiller space to capitalize on impulse sales”.