Provisions has chosen the London borough as the site for its second branch. There could be more to come, as Hugo Meyer Esquerré tells Claire Harries
Six years on from the launch of Provisions on north London’s Holloway Road, a second branch has opened in Hackney. Owner Hugo Meyer Esquerré couldn’t be happier.
Meyer Esquerré started the business with Ben Proctor, who he met while they were working at Borough Wines.
Proctor left the partnership in July 2020. “Things have changed quite a lot since Ben left,” Meyer Esquerré explains. “The employees got new responsibilities and I had to change things around because of the pandemic, too.
“Ben and I had considered a few sites together for our second shop, but had a few disappointments and we had put it on the backburner. When you first do a shop, you realise it is quite good to have a partner because you share the responsibility and you have conversations and make decisions together, but when you are on your own it is a bit more stressful. So after six months of building work, it’s a great feeling to be open.”
The Hackney store showcases wines from Roussillon, Languedoc and the southern Rhône.
“About 50% of our entire selection is dedicated to these regions,” Meyer Esquerré says. “We can demonstrate the diversity and richness of these places and show the different type of soils and climate and the new generation of winemakers.
“In Hackney there are quite a lot of wine shops, and we felt the need to offer something that is a bit different and quite precise. So to focus on these regions felt like the right match.”
The wine range, which sits alongside a varied selection of cheese and deli items, is also sourced and imported by Provisions, and supplemented by suppliers including The Modest Merchant, Vine Trail and Les Caves de Pyrene.
The second shop is also considerably larger, with 65 square metres of retail space and a basement area, which incorporates a cold room for all the food prep. The space will also allow for wine tastings and will occasionally open as a bar. It will also be home to the Provisions Wine School, which launched last summer.
“The course focuses on organic and biodynamic viticulture, and I would say it sits somewhere between WSET Level 1 and 2,” says Meyer Esquerré.
The course is run by employee Sam Povey, who suggested the idea to Meyer Esquerré.
“He’s a young guy, full of ambition, so it’s great to have him on board, and we’ve set up a separate company together. We are working on the second stage of the school, which will focus solely on hospitality. It is a class designed to help waiting staff, front-of-house, shop owners or managers of restaurants. It will just be a day’s class to teach the fundamentals and basics.
“We try to promote curiosity. Whenever we go and visit vineyards we like to get as much information as we can and get our customers to understand the products as much as we do. The education part is another step to make that official.”
So, will there be more shops to follow?
“There is so much potential with the Hackney shop. There is a lot to do because the space is bigger. We are also reopening the bar at Holloway Road – that was very popular for Islington locals.
“We will be streamlining our operations, focusing on our wholesaling and enjoying seeing customers come through the doors of both shops. We’ll see in a couple of years where we are, but it’s exciting times for sure.”