E-trading is the only cloud on the off-trade's bright horizon T he wine market is rapidly becoming one of the most dynamic sectors of the off-trade drinks business. It is eclipsed in sheer growth rates by premium packaged spirits but as a traffic generator and a consumer focus point it cannot be beaten. The multiples have championed off-trade wine sales and made them a part of the weekly shop. The growth curve has remained steady and over the last 12 months it is running at 6% (volume) and 8% (value), a healthy indicator that consumers buy more and trade up. The only thing likely to slow business through the multiple grocers is electronic sales through the increasing number of operators on the internet. Until recently the market has been relatively unbranded and the multiples developed extensive ranges of exclusives lines. Sainsbury has 150 which, if considered as a brand, makes it the biggest in the business. But the producers, particularly from the New World, have recognised the increased profit potential of brands and given serious marketing support. The brands now have 19% (volume) of the market and this is growing by 32%. Within that, the top 10 brands account for 13.9%, growing at 36%. The biggest brand in the total on and off-trades continues to be Stowells of Chelsea with its wine boxes from all over the world. It has a significant presence in the on-trade in three and 10 litre boxes. In the take home the competition is hot between Gallo, Hardys, and Caxton Wines' Jacob's Creek. The latest Nielsen figures for the year to August giving volume share of the total off-trade light wine market show Hardys in the lead with 2.8%, which is growth of 64% on last year. Gallo has 2.5% (+18.7%), Jacob's Creek 2.4% (+19.9%). Each is supported by heavyweight advertising this autumn and for Jacob's Creek and Hardys that includes television campaigns. Caxton aims to add value to its key Australian range to counteract price discounting by the multiples. It is putting 1.2 million neck collars on the red varietals and introducing 36 and 72 bottle display units. The Californian E and J Gallo has led the way in the branded wine market and this winter will spend £2.5m supporting its range. The core brand is the Gallo Wine Cellars collection, but it is also backing the stand alone brand Garnet Point and the premium Turning Leaf wines. Marketing controller Ian Belcher says Wine Cellars has almost total distribution in the off-trade. Garnet Point is catching it up and, says Belcher, was recorded as the fastest growing brand in the business this year. A Chardonnay/Semillon joins the range to be promoted by tailormade activity with major customers, as well as press advertising. A Shiraz/Cabernet will join it in the New Year. BRL Hardy is expecting consumers to continue to trade up and has added a Cabernet Shiraz Merlot and a Chardonnay Sauvignon, both above £5. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}