Vindependents set up own groupage firm

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Vindependents expects to speed up imports to the UK, and make big cost savings, with the launch of a groupage business owned by its members.

The company, SAS Groupage Europe, has opened a bonded warehouse in south west France through which all Vindependents’ European shipments will be routed.

Vindependents director Jess Hutchinson says the cost of shipping a single pallet from Bordeaux should go down from around £350 to nearer £265, while from Rioja members can expect savings of £150 a pallet.

To begin with, the business expects to send one lorry a week to EHD’s bond in the UK, with just one Export Accompanying Document covering the entire load.

Hutchinson says it has been “a bit of a nightmare getting wine into the UK in a timely and cost-effective way since Brexit”.

She adds: “Currently we are sending each order direct from the producer to EHD using Wineflow or another UK shipper.

“Each order has customs paperwork costs of £130 regardless of the size of the shipment, meaning costs are astronomical.

“In addition, the delays at ports whilst all the various papers are sorted and pallets are moved between lorries are huge.

“Shipments are taking up to six weeks to arrive at EHD and then often arriving without the correct papers, meaning EHD can’t book on the stock.”

Hutchinson says the new business “will give us a lot more control over our shipments”. She adds: “They will arrive quicker, be booked on at EHD quicker and cost less too.”

In a note to Vindependents members – all independent wine merchants – she says: “The upshot of all of this is that we should be able to halve the financial impact of Brexit on our shipping and you will be able to either move RRPs down or make more margin.”

She adds: “Phase two of the Groupage Europe project, once our own shipping is working seamlessly, will be to offer this service to members.

“Members will be able to use the warehouse for shipping their own pallets and eventually will be able to send wine shipments to Europe through the warehouse as well.”

Vindependents, which has 47 members, currently works with 121 wine producers spread across 62 wine regions.

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