Waitrose store front

Waitrose has shaken up its booze offer with upmarket whiskies, rums and gins in a bid to reverse its declining share of the spirits market.

The retailer added 24 new SKUs this week, almost half of which were upmarket whiskies from the likes of Chivas Regal, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Slane Irish Whiskey and Balvenie, as well as Whyte & Mackay’s recently-launched The Woodsman brand. [Brand View 52 w/e 31 January 2018].

It also gave space to a smattering of rums including Bacardi Reserva Ocho, Kane’s Caribbean Rum and Diplomatico Mantuano, while Chase Distillery won listings for its Pink Grapefruit & Pomelo and Sloe & Mulberry gins. Beefeater Pink gin and Absolut’s Juice Edition strawberry vodka were also added to the range.

A spokeswoman for the retailer said it had “reviewed our spirits range to ensure it’s absolutely right for customers, removing duplication and differentiating from competitor ranges.”

Waitrose had “continued to focus on providing more premium lines across all spirits, and increasing space in both the gin and rum categories, areas that have continued to see strong growth over the last year,” she added.

The retailer had also begun grouping new areas of spirits together on shelf “like flavoured gin, which has become a destination sector within spirits over the last year”, the spokeswoman added.

The review marks a fairtrade first for Waitrose, which also added fairtrade spirits brand Fair’s vodka and café liqueur to the range.

It comes as Waitrose’s market share of spirits fell from 5.2% to 3.9% last year, as was exclusively revealed by The Grocer earlier in January [Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 30 December 2018].

A spokeswoman for Waitrose told The Grocer at the time that it had “made a decision to focus on profitable sales, reducing one-day promotional offers” which led to the drop in share across all BWS categories.

“This particularly impacted on the spirits category and is something we planned for and anticipated,” she said, stressing BWS sales at the super had grown well over the festive period.