A fine drop of wine

Steve Midcalf tells Elit Rowland that premium wines will help independents take on the multiples

steve midcalf
Steve Midcalf, National account controller, Accolade Wines
ER: How have you helped wholesalers to grow sales?

SM: I’ve been working in this channel for 18 years. I’ve got a dedicated team of account managers with at least 10 years’ experience in wholesale. We believe in building relationships and working in wholesale for the long-term. We are really supportive with retail club expansion in particular, as it gives independents a strong level playing field against the multiple retailers. 

How important is technology?

We can get to retailers better than ever before using technology – we recently worked with Booker and HT & Co (Drinks) on their websites to get our brand out there. We are also supporting them in dealing with the growing demand for click & collect. 

How are you supporting your customers with technology? 

We recently developed www.winningwithwine.com – a portal for retailers and publicans. It offers ranging advice, market stats, category advice and promotions. We also give free point-of-sale (PoS) material on it – it helps retailers to shout about their offers. More than 2,000 are already registered to use it.

What’s your advice to wholesalers?

We recently worked with Blakemore and Hyperama to offer category advice and relay their fixtures to a better profile using block branding. We would advise other cash & carries to block brands together to make shopping the fixture easier. After all, retailers shop by brand, not by white, red or rosé. It’s best to keep this all together. 

Fast Accolade facts

The average Accolade Wines account manager has 10 years experience 

25% of volume sales go through wholesale

Has a 13% share of the UK market

Has three of the top wine brands: Hardys, Echo Falls and Kumala

What trends are you seeing in our channel?

You used to have wholesalers that were either dedicated to retail or foodservice and on-trade but now they are merging.  It’s important to appreciate the differences in ranging and brands for these separate channels – some brands that are big in retail won’t necessarily be big in foodservice and vice versa. In particular, the on-trade wants everyday low pricing so that they can put wines on menus. Prices can’t be high one minute and low the next. 

Have you faced any major challenges in the past year?

The multiples on the high street are a challenge but we are working hard with retail clubs to get the right price and PoS material. We’re also trialling exclusive sub-brands that fall under the Hardys and Echo Falls umbrella, which are exclusive to the independent retailer. We are focusing on that more as a way to give our customers a point of difference. 

What opportunities are there for wholesalers and retailers?

Wholesalers need to be quicker to respond to market trends and quicker off the mark with new products. A case in point is premium wine – people think that independent stores can’t sell premium wine but it’s not true. If a consumer is going somewhere special, they are prepared to pay a little bit more. By not stocking it, you’re missing a trick. It won’t be sold in vast quantities but in terms of margin and profit, it’s a huge opportunity for our sector. 

Chilled wine is also a big opportunity – help the supplier by getting that message across in-depot and in-store.


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