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Big brand caught 'mystery shopping'

Constellation, one of the biggest wine companies in the world with brands such as Hardys, Banrock Station, Stowells and Nobilo, has allegedly been trying to boost sales figures by getting staff to buy bottles on expenses in a bid to secure a lucrative contract with the JD Wetherspoon pub chain. The sales ploy came to light after an email was leaked to a local newspaper by an employee of Matthew Clark, the wholesale arm of Constellation Europe. In it, workers were asked by senior managers to visit their local Wetherspoons during an eight-week trial by the pub chain to find out which wines were most popular. Then they were asked to buy bottles of some of the company’s brands to, according to the email, ‘ensure that Constellation Europe is awarded this lucrative contract’. Constellation said in a statement that it was a ‘mystery shopping exercise’ and that the email was sent ‘as a result of excessive enthusiasm for this trial and was a serious mistake’.