Wine sales at the Co-operative Group are growing three times faster than the rest of the market, new independent figures reveal, boosting the retailer’s revenue by more than £20m in the last year.

The society saw sales swell by 17.7% last year, compared with an increase of 5.6% across the total off-trade sector [ACNielsen, July 2003]. The data is set against a market dominated by the multiple grocers, which for the same period collectively only notched up an 8.7% rise in wine sales.

However, the picture was less rosy for the Co-operative’s peers in the convenience channel where wine sales only rose by 0.6% for all impulse stores in the same period.

The Co-operative Group, which commands a 6.1% share of the off-trade wine market and 17% within the impulse market, said the figures proved it was able to compete alongside the major multiples.

The society’s brand development manager, John Lancashire, said: “Outside the multiple grocers, the Co-operative Group is leading the way within the smaller retail groups because we have a more mainstream offering than some CTN stores.

“Wine has been a category of strength for us in the last few years so the growth has not been because we are building on an area of weakness.”

He attributed the group’s rising sales to its buying policy, which has led buyers to concentrate on areas such as Hungary, South Africa and Argentina in an effort to provide ranges of “good value wines” for consumers.

Aligning ranges to fit local demographics had also helped, he added.
Rosie Davenport