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Smaller UK wine retailers bullish about 2009

Small, independent wine chains are optimistic about their prospects for 2009 after a healthy Christmas campaign, with some planning to expand in the next year.

While independent merchants reported a fall in sales in 2008 compared with 2007, most claimed to be pleased with their current performance.

Jonathan Wren, sales director at London’s largest independent merchant, Jeroboams, said, ‘2007 was our best year ever so realistically we were never going to beat that but it’s not doom and gloom.’

Two London-based merchants, Lea & Sandeman and Philglass & Swiggot, both reported record days in the run-up to Christmas.

This was despite figures showing UK wine sales dropped by 22% in that period.

Charles Lea of Lea and Sandeman said he is looking to open new stores in the capital in 2009 and 2010.

The merchant currently has three stores in Chelsea, Kensington and Barnes and intends to add one or more shops.

Lea told decanter.com, ‘We have been looking to expand but the property prices don’t add up so we are hoping retail property will change and landlords will be forced to reconsider overinflated prices.

‘The number of empty shops on the high street will convince landlords to look again,’ he added.

Written by Rebecca Gibb

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