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UK Wine Show 68 Waitrose Justin Howard-Sneyd MW

This show was published 15 September 2007


Justin Howard-Sneyd is head of the Waitrose wine buying team. He joined Waitrose in 2005 and is one of 5 MWs in the team. Justin explains how Waitrose position their in-store wine departments to appeal to a broad range of customers.

The Waitrose wine buying team includes 5 Masters of Wine and is headed up by one of them, Justin Howard-Sneyd. They also have a team of team of 180 WSET trained partners who work in branch as wine specialists - most branches have at least one specialist to assist customers in selecting wine and to run the wine department. The wine specialist is normally on site 50% of the time with hours aligned to peak wine buying times which tend to be weekends and evenings.

Waitrose accept they are a supermarket, selling grocery items. Within that they have a wine department and try to position themselves between a large supermarket and a specialist wine merchant by having a range tailored to the more discerning palate. The average bottle price is approaching £6, where other supermarkets are around the £4 mark.

Their share of off-trade wine sales is 6% against a Grocery share of 4% so Waitrose overtrade in wine. They have an even higher share of New Zealand wine sales, Champagne and English wine. Their policy of sourcing locally has resulted in over 25% market share of English wines (excluding cellar door sales). While they only have 2 whites, 1 rose and 2 sparkling English wines listed nationally there are up to 25 English wines listed locally.

In a good sized branch there are about 750 wines. Within that range there are a few of the big brands that they know customers like but that range is kept quite tight and the focus is on £6-10 price range to appeal to Waitrose's customer that is looking for more premium quality wine.

The Canary Wharf branch is interesting. It has a larger range of wines (1000) to attract city workers and also has a wine bar where you can drink wine you have bought at retail price rather than restaurant prices. They are looking to extend the concept to the Oxford Street and new Marylebone store.

Waitrose don't do half price wine promotions or sell any wine at below cost - the strategy is to trade people up and encourage them to experiment and be adventurous. While they do want to be competitive on price they are not aiming to be cheapest in the market.

They have 30 own label wines and have just launched a new range in partnership with world leading suppliers e.g. Waitrose Chateauneuf du Pape is produced by top producer Beaucastel.


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The UK Wine Show is sponsored by ThirtyFifty. Our team of wine tasters are busy entertaining and educating UK consumers to help them get the most out of wine.


The music used for the UK Wine Show is Griffes de Jingle 1 by Marcel de la Jartèle and Silence by Etoile Noire.

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