A drinks buying group, known to few in the trade outside its nine wholesale members, is reinventing itself as a specialist independent wholesale distributor. UBS was founded as a deals club in 1990 to negotiate big volume, cost-effective deals for its members. Last year it had a turnover of £350m. The first signs of changes taking place were seen last year when it launched five of its own brands and became UBS Drinks Marketing. Great White Cider was launched at the end of last summer and has sold 50,000 cases. This was followed in November by Andre Philippe brandy, Highland Cairn Scotch whisky and Reshnoff vodka. Then came Lütz German lager, Reshnoff Vodka Ice and Lamari sparkling perry. In March it is planning to launch a gin, a rum and another premium packaged spirit. By the middle of the year it will have put together a portfolio of wines, mostly from the New World. Managing director Philip Jenkins said: "Suppliers are looking for an initiative they can take to the consumer, but they have not recognised that UBS has a retail end. "The company is launching a new retail concept specifically for independent drinks retailers to help them fight off the multiples. The concept is designed to add impact and maximise retail displays to stop sales of wines and spirits drifting from independents. "We plan to take this to the next level by developing an exclusive club for retailers offering a range of deals and special promotions." UBS has identified 350 retailers who could benefit from the club, but plans to start modestly with three of its wholesalers putting forward 50 retailers each. "It will help reduce the deal junkie mentality, create quality for them and give them a better profile and a point of difference." The UBS wholesale members are: Dhamecha, EFB, Venus, J W Filshill, Thames Cash & Carry, Gold Spot, Kheras, Sandhar & Kang and A C Ward. {{DRINKS }}