Thierry’s was founded in 1981 and is one of the UK’s key independent wine importers and distributors. It employs 30 people at its headquarters in Romsey and handles more than 17 million bottles of wine every year
Thierry’s works as the exclusive agent for more than 80 producers around the world, importing wines for its UK customers which include the major supermarkets, independent and online merchants and regional wholesalers.
The company sources wines from all major wine-producing countries including France, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Italy and Chile as well as new, emerging wine-growing markets such as Croatia, India, Moldova, Slovenia and Turkey.
Thierry’s is a specialist in the French wine category and is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of French wine, sourcing from some of the very best producers in each region. The company prides itself on helping producers develop their overall offer, ranging from quality and technical guidance through to marketing and branding.
Managing director Hatim Dungarwalla said: “We’ve recently started to sell through three new channels – export, on-trade and direct to consumer – and will focus on enhancing our offering and impact in these areas during the next 12 months.
“Most recently, Thierry’s has gained traction in the export market. While we are best known for the work we do importing wine to the UK and supplying to UK supermarkets and online retailers, we’ve used our expertise in this area to recognise the appetite for wines in foreign markets and to expand into these regions.
“In some emerging countries, the wine market is about 10-20 years behind the UK. Wine does not yet have mass popularity and these markets tend to want decisive and recognisable brands.”
Currently Thierry’s exports to six international markets with intentions to distribute to a further eight to 10 by the end of 2013. Russia, China, India, the Philippines and parts of Africa are big growth markets, with a surging interest in wine and a demand for accessible brands, especially from the old world which is one of its key areas of strength.
Another area of focus is the sister business, Cavendish Wines. Launched in 2010, Cavendish Wines supplies to the on-trade (pubs, restaurants, bars, caterers, event companies) through regional wholesalers. Cavendish shares the same experienced buying team as Thierry’s, to create a diverse and exclusive wine list which includes products from some of the top producers around the world.
“The on-trade market is an area that we believe we can really excel in by drawing on the over 30 years we’ve been doing business in the UK and on our understanding of consumers,” Dungarwalla continued.
“We will also continue to grow our direct to consumer offering, Radcliffe’s Wines. In 2011 we started to sell this range of old world regional classics online. By offering products directly to the consumer we’ve had to rethink how we market our products and interact with consumers. In 2012 we’ll be attending a host of food festivals and shows along the south coast, not only to sell our wine, but also to speak directly with consumers.
“What we are trying to do this year is shift our business model to better fit the market and the needs of consumers. The wine industry has changed massively during the past decade and we want to adapt with these changes. Wine has become more commoditised and the demand from the UK’s big supermarkets has introduced more volume and a cheaper price point. Consumers have come to expect wine at a lower price, yet this does not always mean that consumers are getting the best value for their money.
“Wine should be a consumer-friendly category, but too many consumers fear buying wine because of the amount of choice and the language often used to describe the product, and often end up selecting on price. We want consumers to feel they’re getting a quality product, and to enjoy the experience of buying and enjoying wine. To do this we’ve got a programme of activity lined up from consumer research to social media campaigns that will help us get to know consumers a little better and hopefully help us shake up our industry. We also have an innovation and new product development arm to the business – we believe innovation is incredibly important in today’s market place.”
Recent headlines illustrate the strong influence the Government has on the drinks’ industry. From the new tax on alcohol to the proposed introduction of minimum pricing as part of the government’s alcohol strategy, suggested at a minimum of 40p per unit, it plays a large role in the future direction of the industry.
Dungarwalla concluded: “Tax is not the only answer. The current government, and previous one, focused on reducing alcohol abuse through taxation. While more needs to be done to change the nation’s attitude to alcohol and reduce binge drinking, increased taxation is not the cure. The funds raised are not reinvested into other preventative measures. By over-taxing alcohol, the Government is slowly diminishing an otherwise-successful alcoholic drinks industry on the world stage.
“The Government could do more to help educate consumers about responsible drinking. I would love to see the British public drinking to excess.”