Friday, December 30, 2005

Unwins goes under!

Unwins the wine merchants, which has been around since 1843 has ceased trading with the loss of 1400 jobs and closure of 350 stores. Whilst part of the blame can be laid at the door of increased competition from the supermarkets, it would be fair to say that all the off license chains and independents that are doing well also suffer from this same competition. The fault lies elsewhere, for the last month my local store has had virtually no wine on the shelves and distribution and cash flow have been cited as part of the reason. How can a chain that has grown so large go so badly, the buyers need to take some of the blame, an inability to differentiate themselves is part of the story - in order to get customers to visit the store rather than go to a supermarket they needed a unique selling point - which from the outside looks like they failed to have. Oddbins sell better, more interesting wines than the supermarkets with staff who know their stuff, Majestic have a similar strategy but by getting cheap premises and having a minimum order of one case have made it work. From my visits to Unwins, the range tended to be small, (something a specialist cannot afford to do), uninspiring, and very ordinary - it appeared they wanted to compete head on with Tesco in a battle they were destined to lose - too many wines in the £5 price point and not enough in the £9 plus bracket.

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