Issue 20: should you open a second shop?

Opening a second shop is something that almost all independents think about at some stage. The first store is doing well; the teething problems are out of the way; you sense that you could buy more efficiently if you were able to sell from two sites. And, with any luck, make more money.

It doesn’t always work like that, of course. In the current issue of The Wine Merchant, we talk to one business adviser who suggests that independents who go down this route almost always fail, because they don’t have the entrepreneurial skills required. They’ve invested too much of themselves in the first shop, and this can’t be replicated on a second site. We also talk to Edinburgh merchant David Henderson, who recently called time on shop number twowine merchant issue 20 p1. He’s honest enough to admit the store had been losing money for some time.

But we also talk to two independents who have made the leap from one to two shops, and are doing well. At one point The Good Wine Shop in south west London even had three shops. Now, with branches in Chiswick and Kew, owner Mark Wrigglesworth allows his managers to do their own thing (more or less) and can take a strategic view of the business as a whole. He also gets weekends off.

In Hampshire, Wine Utopia has recently opened a second shop and owner Rachel Gibson has taken a broadly similar approach: let the managers manage. By the sounds of it, Rachel’s had a tough year getting the business to its current position. She’s pleased with the results. But she doesn’t want a third shop.

In issue 20 we also profile Hangingditch, the acclaimed Manchester independent. Owner Ben Stephenson gives a candid interview about the business and how it’s grown, and the things he’d like to do better. Does he want a second shop? Yes, as it turns out.

This is our last issue of 2013 before the festive break. It’s a bumper edition, packed with reviews, new store openings, vital updates from suppliers, David Williams on excellent form, a report on Codorniu’s recent indie trip to Spain, and some helpful advice on how to get inside the minds of your customers.

We’re also offering some superb prizes in a competition run in association with Maison Sichel, including an impériale of Chateau Palmer 1982, a double magnum of the 1989 and a magnum of the 1990. Full details on page five.