Established independents are leading growth in the sector with Oeno, Planet of the Grapes, Vagabond Wines and Bottle Apostle all planning to open new sites in the next few months.
In August wine shop-cum-wine bar pioneer Planet of the Grapes is to close its original location in London’s New Oxford Street and replace it with a bigger site nearby in Holborn’s exclusive Sicilian Avenue.
This story appears in the new edition of The Wine Merchant
It also aiming for a July opening for a shop and bar in the former home of Fox, an iconic City umbrella retailer and gents’ tailor.
The listed building has a famous art deco frontage and neon sign featuring the name of the original business, so Planet of the Grapes will trade from there under the Fox name with secondary signage to emphasise “fine wines and spirits”.
Other notable features include a curved bomb-proof window installed in World War II and pre-war interior cabinetry.
“We’re very excited to get our hands on it,” says owner Matt Harris. “It’s a beautiful building. You can’t change the sign, so it made sense just to use the name rather than go with something like ‘Planet of the Grapes at Fox’.
“But in terms of the wine, the buying and the operation, it’s very much owned and run by Planet of the Grapes.”
The shop, at 18 London Wall, will be over five floors: a kitchen in the basement, shop on the ground floor, dining on the first floor; a less formal lounge bar on the second; and an office at the top.
“We’re still retail,” says Harris. “We don’t want to lose what we’ve had at Holborn over the last 10 years but we want to be somewhere where you can come to buy wine and stay and have some food and a drink if you want to.
“There’s a pocket in that part of the City where there’s nowhere you can go to buy wine unless you’re going to a supermarket.”
The changes bring the group up to four locations, with its sites in Bow Lane and Leadenhall staying unchanged.
“That will probably be it for me for at least two years,” says Harris, “but I’d never say never and if the right site came up we could do it.”