The April edition of The Wine Merchant contains part two of our reader survey. How important are on-premise sales to independents? Or dispense machines? Or food? The answers may surprise you.
By and large we’re detecting a slightly more conservative streak among indies this year, perhaps not surprising given the price increases that are providing a jolt to the system, and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit’s effect on the economy.
But there’s a definite surge in interest in direct imports. Almost half of respondents plan to increase the amount of wine they source directly from producers in the coming year, with around a quarter expecting to buy at current levels.
Just under 21% say they will continue to buy all their wines from UK suppliers.
Direct importing is often not as complicated as novices fear it might be. But it does leave merchants exposed to currency shocks, and it creates admin that many find fiddly and time-consuming. Logistics and storage can be a headache. Many who go down the direct-import route say they only really appreciate the value of the service provided by agency businesses when they try to do the job themselves.
Most merchants have no intention of importing 100% of their wines. But the proportion of what they do buy in this way looks certain to rise.