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Ahead of the peak Christmas sales period, RN caught up with Pernod Ricard’s off-trade channel director, Chris Shead, to find out how independents can profit from premium-priced alcohol lines

RETAIL NEWSAGENT How have premium spirits performed compared to value and standard lines in the past year?

CHRIS SHEAD The past 12 months have been a very interesting time for spirits, with volume sales down slightly, but growth in value. This value growth has mainly been driven by premium spirits (anything priced at £15.65+ per 70cl), which delivered 10.6% growth over the year. The dip in volume can be attributed to a 6% drop in value spirits (spirits priced at less than £11.75 per 70cl) and a flat standard spirits performance of +0.2%.

RN What has been the main reason for this growth?

CS The increasing availability of pricemarked spirits in impulse. Pricemarking on premium wine is also key to its successful performance in impulse.

RN What advantages do premium alcohol brands offer stockists?

CS Smaller retailers know their customers’ tastes – more than their local supermarket – so they can bring in lines they know will sell, which also takes off the pressure from trying to compete on price on entry level wines and spirits.

RN What can retailers do to further drive the purchase of premium alcohol at Christmas?

CS Simply dressing your store up and putting on some Christmas music can change your customers’ moods and get them in the mood for Christmas shopping. It may seem trivial, but our research has shown that shopper behaviour is heavily influenced by the atmosphere of the store.

RN How should retailers merchandise premium lines?

CS Clear and simple is the best approach to merchandising – especially if your spirits are behind the counter. Arranging your lines in price order, with premium spirits on the top shelf will help your customers choose quicker and more easily.

To find out how to make more of alcohol at Christmas, don’t miss our 17 October issue.