McGuigan Wines targets UK independents after record trophy win

McGuigan Wines is targeting UK independents with wines showcasing regionality, distinctiveness and personality after winning IWSC Winemaker of the Year for a record fourth year running. 

The Australian brand has enjoyed strong growth, with sales up 9.6% to £120 million (IRI, year to July 2016) making it Britain’s fifth bestselling brand. 

It has an average price point of £5.15 and aims to raise this by targeting indies and the on-trade with more nuanced wines. 

Neil McGuigan, chief executive at parent company Australian Vintage, told OLN: “When we win those trophies, people around the world listen. They are serious awards. The opportunity to sell more expensive wines with more personality in independents and the on-trade has never been greater. 

“We need to take that opportunity and drive it and give them premium, super-premium and iconic wines, and we will be seen as a wine country that can deliver. We don’t have enough high-quality, low-volume wines in the UK market yet, and we need to do that through focusing on engagement with the consumer.” 

McGuigan added: “We are in all the major supermarkets with a couple of SKUs and that’s growing. We need to focus on the independents. We used to have two people selling to UK independents. Now we have five. We should have 25, but we are working our way through that, because independents and on-trade is something we can really focus on.”

He believes a partnership with Masterchef star John Torode is helping convince consumers of the quality of McGuigan’s wines. “We need to get to the buyers in the supermarkets and independents and specialists and get them on side and make them understand what we have in our portfolio,” said McGuigan. 

“Another more important job is to jump over those people and speak to the consumers and get them motivated and interested in our brands. The John Torode relationship and food and wine matchings are helping.”

Australia’s long streak of growth in the UK has ended as sales have dropped 0.9% (IRI, year to October 2016) but that trend does not worry Julian Dyer, Australian Vintage UK general manager. “When you have a quarter of the market it is difficult to buck the trend of what the UK market is doing overall,” he said. 

“You can only row your own boat, not other people’s, and we look after our brands. 

“We need to make sure we stay relevant to the consumer and to our customers, helping them to sell more wine at a higher price point and be more profitable. Range rationalisation has been the reality for the past five years and we have managed to grow the brand. 

“Our brand awareness is still not where we would like it to be. We are finding ways to raise awareness. We had a major TV campaign in September and October that hit 11 million people three times each. Despite all the things going on in the market and in the world we are convinced we need to keep investing.”

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