The number of independent specialist wine shops operating in the UK has hit a new high.
By the end of 2014 the figure had reached 753 stores, operated by 550 businesses, according to research by The Wine Merchant.
Twenty new shops appeared last year, a slight decrease on the 25 recorded in 2013. But the number of stores that opened as extensions of existing retail businesses went up from five in 2013 to eight in 2014.
Ten of the 20 independents that opened their first shops last year are located in the south east of England – six of them in London.
The stores that appeared in 2014 epitomise the diverse nature of modern drinks retailing. Several of the new shops are basing their offer around refillable bottles, while others are making dispense machines their centrepiece.
A number of the new entrants have factored in food sales, but the classic wine shop model endures in the majority of cases.
Wine Merchant editor Graham Holter says: “There has been a net increase in the number of independents every month for the past two years. In fact there has only been one month over the past five years in which numbers dipped.
“It’s a remarkably vibrant and resilient sector and we expect more growth.”
This article appears in the current issue of The Wine Merchant. The issue also includes a report of a recent independent merchant trip to Arezzo, organised in conjunction with Michele Shah, who specialises in regional trips to Italy using her Speedtasting format.