from Matthew Hughes, sales & marketing manager, Bargain Booze
Sir; I'd like to applaud Nigel Huddleston for his concise and well thought-out article (Is the Offie still on? The Grocer, January 4). Nigel's contention that the specialist off-licence chain does have a future, irrespective of apparent difficulties in the marketplace, is a well founded one.
Some may see doom in Cellar 5's recent downfall, in the losses reported at the outset of 2002 by Unwins and even in the rationalisation of stores by First Quench, but there are reasons to be cheerful.
Bargain Booze has experienced massive growth over the past few years. We have doubled the number of stores in the last two years (from just over 200 at the end of 2000, to 412 stores at the end of 2002). We have increased retail sales year-on-year every year, we have even launched a new c-store fascia, Thorougoods, at the end of 2001, with 55 stores now trading.
Bargain Booze has just capped this with a fantastic Christmas period for 2002 ­ experiencing average growth in retail sales of 8.5% (like for like). Not bad for a market supposedly dead in the water!
We have proved time and again that with strong retail offers, good systems and a distinct and powerful presentation it is possible to survive ­ and thrive ­ in the face of the major multiples.
The future of the off-licence chain belongs to those who can adapt to survive, and those who offer something genuinely different to that available elsewhere. Be distinct or be extinct ­ the core ethos of Bargain Booze!