UK wine retailer Oddbins is trialling a new, smaller convenience store-style format called 'Oddies'.
The first Oddies store, in Low Fell, Tyne and Wear, is already open and more will follow around the UK in 2011 if the initial experiment proves a success.
The concept – which hopes to partly fill the gap left by the demise of Thresher – works with a much smaller wine portfolio of about 450 products, alongside a wide range of locally produced craft beers, tobacco, confectionery and snacks.
The move is a reflection of Oddbins managing director Simon Baile’s belief that Oddies can establish a ‘strong presence’ in the market following the collapse of Thresher last year.
‘After two and a half years of re-focusing the business and the range, we now embark on a new chapter in the life of Oddbins,’ Baile said.
‘Having now opened one new Oddbins store and launched the new website within the last three weeks, the addition of the Oddies format gives us even greater possibilities for growth of the business in the future.’
Baile, the son of former Oddbins managing director Nick Baile, took over the company following the sale of the retailer by French wine giant Castel in 2008.
He has repeatedly insisted that the company – revered in the 1980s and ‘90s for its no fuss attitude to wine, and its ability to source tiny and interesting parcels of wine – is back on the right track, despite rumours of supply chain problems, staff discontent and concerns over the company’s credit rating.
A spokesperson for Oddbins said the rumours were confined to one or two suppliers who were no longer with Oddbins and that ‘the majority of suppliers were happy with Oddbins’.
In a letter to suppliers two months ago, Baile said average spend had risen ‘by more than 5% in the first 6 months of 2010’.
He added the chain had seen ‘the first positive increase in customer numbers for many years, an increase in the average bottle price to £8 (the highest on the high street), retail sales showing a like for like increase of 5%, the first for many years, and internet sales up 44%.’
Written by Richard Woodard