Let’s get spirits booming in indies

Emporia Brands boss James Rackham is on a mission to help wine merchants capitalise on a market that has often eluded them

Emporia Brands is a premium spirits business with its roots firmly in the wine trade.
Owner James Rackham describes himself as “a wine merchant by birth”: his father, Arthur Rackham, ran a successful wine business with an estate of shops in the home counties.

James took the reins in the 80s, eventually merging it with Wine Rack – which he rescued from administration – before selling up to pursue his long-standing passion for craft spirits.

“My life was working with growers, running wine shops, wine clubs, and achieving a few accolades along the way,” he says. “I know what it is to be and work as an independent wine merchant.”

James Rackham

Emporia Brands has become one of the on-trade’s most admired spirits suppliers, with an eclectic range of products that include prestigious imports like Chairman’s Reserve Rum, Père Magloire Calvados and Lauvia Armagnac as well as its own brands including Mayfield Gin, Hoxton Gin and the soon-to-be-launched Tennessee whiskey, Daddy Rack.

“I really like to work with indies,” says Rackham. “The feedback we get from indies is that they’re really keen on spirits, and I recognise that our industry sometimes neglects indies.

“There isn’t much that’s being done to make it easier for indies to really get on board with spirits. That can be because of logistics – it’s difficult to order, minimum order quantities are too high, and you have to open up another account … and most wine suppliers are really not interested in spirits. There are a few exceptions, like Las Bodegas, with whom we have a partnership deal.

“So we have decided to really make it our mission to be the go-to friend of indie wine merchants. It’s in my DNA to work with them.

“The opportunity with lockdown is that indies are in a strong position – they’ve acquired new customers; they’ve become a destination for people who want decent wine and personal service.

“There’s been 33% growth in online retailing nationally so that’s booming and many indies have got good online platforms.

“We’ve got a strong marketing department and they’ve put together a whole toolkit dedicated to indie wine merchants. We’re going to really work with every one of our customers to help and support them with this free service, supporting our brands.”

Free digital assets to help indies grow spirits sales

Emporia Brands has launched a Holiday at Home section on its website that provides virtual experiences to support its range of premium spirits.

It’s a useful way for independents to engage with their customers and it can be accessed at www.emporiabrands.com/at-home.

The site includes a range of digital marketing assets to help indies increase sales and reach new customers, including social media content, fact sheets, blog content, banners and graphics, high resolution video and images and a selection of innovative mixology guides.

“Sharing our brands’ content with our stockists gives them free access to new and updated online content that’s designed to engage with the brands’ target demographic,” says Emporia’s Jefferson Thomas.

“Since lockdown I have supported a number of independent retailers in setting up their online stores and providing them with digital marketing support.

“I am more than happy to discuss further how I can assist independent retailers in digital marketing.”

Email jefferson@emporiabrands.com.

Win a bottle of Marquis de Montesquiou Reserve Armagnac for Father’s Day!

Sign up to and join the Marquis webinar on Facebook live Wednesday, June 16 at 7pm for your chance to win. Sign up is free and you will receive a link to a 25% off promotion on the Marquis Armagnac range.

The winner will be announced at the end of the webinar and alerted by email.

The webinar is hosted by Eric Durand (cellar master), Dave Marsland (brand ambassador) and Gethin Jones (bar manager of Cultureplex, Manchester).