Spar is launching its first ever wine festival in a bid to encourage drinkers to trade up to more premium labels.

The Spar Wine Festival, will run between 22 April and 2 June, with all Spar stores offering 25% off a selection of wines from France and South Africa. In-store banners, competitions and a national media campaign will be used to promote the event.

The initiative marked a step change for the retailer and was part of its long-term plans to encourage consumers to trade up to more premium labels, said Spar UK wine controller Laura Jewell.

"The festival is designed to make it easy for people to try something new this summer without breaking the bank," she added.

A special emphasis would be placed on promoting French and South African wines, she said. "French wine is underperforming and we wanted to give it boost."

Wine buyer Dror Nativ added that Spar was responding to an expected upsurge of interest in South African wine ahead of the World Cup in June.

As part of its attempts to trade up shoppers to higher-tier labels, Spar is rolling out a six-strong Reserve range of own-label New World wines. The newcomers will feature the recently introduced "hand selected by wine experts from Spar" messaging on labels. It would review all of its wine suppliers over the next few months, added Jewell.

She agreed that the demise of Threshers had left a gap in the market for a high street wine outlet, but said Spar would not fill it because it is "still more focused on its food offer".