Sampler pulls in £1m investment

A London wine merchant has defied the economic downturn raising almost £1m investment to open new branches across the city.

The Sampler in Islington has announced plans to open new stores in the trendy boroughs of Kensington and Notting Hill later this year.

The retailer has 10 Enomatic machines offering customers the opportunity to taste more than 80 wines in-store – starting at 30p for a sample of fino sherry to £13 a sip for first-growth clarets.

Jamie Hutchinson, founder of The Sampler told its success was based on offering customers a different shopping experience than other wine stores. ‘Customers like to try wines rather than buying blind,’ he added.

‘We would like to roll this out further in the next couple of years. While we are not aiming at becoming a national chain our model could be applied elsewhere, and we may open a store outside London.’

One of the three investors is Keith Prothero, co-founder of wine auction site and also a director at South African producer Mullineux. ‘I see The Sampler as the future of wine retailing,’ he said.

‘By offering over 1000 interesting wines at all prices and styles, and enabling customers to sample the wines, the experience is fun, educational and most importantly the customer buys a bottle of wine that they know they like.’

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Written by Rebecca Gibb

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