Cellar & Kitchen's recipe for success
The Southwold brewer's retail arm is branching out of its East Anglia base. Christine Boggis talks expansion plans
Suffolk-based brewer, pub
operator and wine merchant Adnams has had a wine shop next to its brewery in Southwold for
30 years. A few years ago a quirky range of kitchenware was added to the mix
and was so successful that over the past couple of years Adnams has set about expanding its empire, first in its East Anglia heartland and then further afield - its first London area shop opened in Richmond this spring.
This year's economic gloom has put the brakes on a rapid expansion plan that hoped to see five shops - including sites in Oxfordshire, the Cotswolds and on the south coast - open this year, but Adnams still expects to open 30 more
by 2012. Meanwhile the company is focusing on its existing shops, on developing its cherry-picked workforce and on its new, eco-friendly Southwold flagship store, which is due to open in November.
The stores are designed with a clean, modern look and light wood fittings. Each has a tasting bar, with a number of wines
open , but the layouts vary and some mix kitchenware in with their wines while others separate them out.
Retail development manager Caroline Fox tells OLN more.
What is the thinking behind the Cellar & Kitchen concept?
Adnams was always a wine merchant, and then
it added kitchenware. It is about two items which actually go well together. Wine and food are naturally link ed and we had a history of importing wine
it as well .
What made you decide to
We opened Holkham
almost three years ago on the north Norfolk coast and it was a shining example that C&K could really work .
There was real consumer demand for the concept
and the success of that really initiated the roll-out. I think it is just a really good example of something being taken out of our immediate area and being a success from day one.
And how is the expansion going now?
We were looking at three more sites and I had queries on all three positions, so it was felt that we needed to consolidate our current existing store business , concentrate on opening the flagship
and then push forward with our expansion plan next year.
It is going to be a tough year
and it is important that we concentrate on what we are doing with our existing stores.
For example, we've just opened in Richmond and we want to concentrate on that rather than spreading ourselves far and wide this year while people are very sensitive.
We will still open 30 stores by 2012 - the idea is to ramp up the rate of openings at a later date rather than this year.
Do you sell anything beyond drinks and kitchenware?
We are looking to expand our food range - we do some food items already, for example Adnams Christmas puddings and chutneys, but products don't have to be Adnams branded.
There is a real fit with what we do with regard to locally sourced products which really
go with our buying policy ,
with our wines and our kitchenware, so that concept will be rolled out.
The Saffron Walden store has a caf
é, which works well. Our coffee is fantastic, it was blended specially for us at a local coffee bean -roasting place .
Our kitchenware buyer Chris Parker went with a colleague
and they spent the afternoon blending our coffee. It is triple-certified [organic, Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance], so it is really reflective of our buying philosophy. Everybody
comes in and says
the best coffee in Saffron Walden.
It is about creating an atmosphere that
is a shopping experience, not just about buying a bottle of wine and a kitchen gadget. It is about experiencing all the different elements, and the tasting centre sits within the cafe area
so people can sample
various different wines while they are eating
a light lunch.
It is a real showcase for our wines and kitchenware - when you go into the caf
é everything you have is an Adnams product. If you are having coffee you can buy the cup and saucer. Even if you just have soup, you can have it in one of our fantastic soup dishes and we can match it with a particular wine.
Will you be putting caf és in other shops?
We have to manage the space element with the seating area and the equipment. Some of our sites wouldn't be able to have a caf é concept, it would just be too restrictive for customers going around.
Do you offer home delivery?
We have recently launched the Vin Van, a free delivery service through stores when you order online or at our call centre
- if you live within the catchment area of the stores. It is a huge customer benefit as well as a benefit for us, because we can go out and talk to our customers
in order to personalise the service, putting a name and face to a web order. It is a
new development and we are really excited about it.
Your range is a mixture of Adnams exclusives and other wines. Who decides which lines each store takes?
We open with a reduced range
and then it's very much up to the store manager and their team. They need to really understand what the customer wants and make sure those products are there . It's quite easy to manage because we have all our wines in London City Bond, and
the sites have such easy access to that, it is a really flexible supply line.
Earl ier this year we did a product analysis and looked at what we had sold in 2007. We went back and tasted a lot of the wines where we weren't sure if they were working . With some we thought, "this is incredibly interesting, we should be selling more - get it open on taste and tell staff how good it is". With some it was
more "no, that
no longer makes the grade". It was a fantastic three or four days that we spent in a room looking at all the figures and tasting lots of wines
- so we now have
a great understanding of our range. It is something we will do every year.
A lot of people know Adnams only as a brewer, yet beer
makes up a tiny portion of your sales. Are you planning to increase the number of beers on sale?
We are launching four new beers this year, including East Green in the spring, and we have just lauched
Lighthouse, which is an IPA with slightly lower alcohol, and Gunhill, which is
a ruby ale. We certainly want to make more of the Adnams beers because a lot of customers have heard of
the brand .
There are also a huge number of customers who have just been to the hotels and don't know that we are a both a wine merchant
and a brewery, and then there are people who only know us as a
C&K store, so it makes sense that we have particular beers which sit really well in our stores. Our customers love our beer and want to see more different styles.
What is your background?
I joined Adnams last summer - before that I was a regional manager for Majestic Wine, covering south London and the south east, for eight years. I joined Adnams to really develop and run the wine business, Cellar & Kitchen, and to roll out the store openings and develop the concept.
Green initiatives across the board
Adnams has made protecting the environment a key policy across all its operations - it has cut the weight of its bottles, set up a new eco-friendly distribution centre and launched what it says is Europe's first carbon -neutral beer,
The new Southwold flagship store is designed to be "eco-efficient", with a "living" sedum roof, natural ventilation and light, recycled rainwater to flush the toilets and walls insulated by sheep's wool.
The brewer's decommissioned wooden fermentation vessels will be recycled as seating for the in-store café, while reclaimed groynes from Southwold beach are to be used to mark out the external courtyard and parking areas.
Adnams operates energy -efficient policies across all its shops, under the name Green Leaf. Measures can be as simple as using energy -efficient lighting and recycling packaging at distribution centres to cut the amount of waste shops have to deal with. It also extends to buying, with wine buyer Alastair Marshall looking at more organic and biodynamic wines. Adnams has also teamed up with UK wine writer Monty Waldin, whose efforts to make a biodynamic wine are to be the subject of a Channel 4 TV series in September, to exclusively stock the resulting wine.
1 Jean des Vignes Sec, Vin de Pays du Gers £4.99
2 Canoe Tree Cabernet/Shiraz, South Australia £5.99
Casa Rivas Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile £5.75
4 Adnams White Burgundy, Mâcon Chardonnay £7.50
5 Adnams Champagne Brut £17.99
6 Forrest Estate Sauvignon, Marlborough, New Zealand £8.99
Telmo Rodriguez Basa Rueda Blanco,
8 Jacky Marteau Sauvignon, Touraine £6.75
9 Château de Crécy Rouge, Bordeaux
Il Colle Pinot Grigio, Italy
Managers on the secret of Adnams' success
Size: 3,500 sq ft
Manager: Craig Biggar
Best sellers: Adnams Selection (£6.99)
What is your background?
I started out in pub assistant management down in Essex, then came up here to work for Adnams, starting as a barman and then becoming assistant manager. I've been with the company for about seven
and have worked in the store for six . I worked my way up from the
bottom with very little wine knowledge, and now I'm probably the second most knowledgeable person in the shop - I have learned quite a bit.
What are your customers like?
A wide range really. We have
the older clientele who live locally, and then we have
our weekend and summer visitors who always come in and stock up either for the week they are here or before they go home . They come and browse and buy some kitchenware gadgets for their holiday home or to take home with them.
How well does the wine work with the kitchenware?
We have tried to blend the shop with a bit of wine in kitchenware and a bit of kitchenware in wine. People do cross-buy, but then others have made comments
about why we have
because they just want to look at the wine.
What promotions work for you?
We have always got wines on taste and
always try and encourage people to try the wines.
We do weekend food tastings - such as Suffolk Larder, who produce chutneys in nice hand-decorated clay pots. I try and get something going on most weekends in the store to attract people in.
Size: 2,200 sq ft
Manager: Duncan Gooch
Best sellers: Adnams White Burgundy (£6.99), Adnams Champagne (£15.99)
What's the secret behind Adnams' C&K operation?
The key thing for the Adnams stores is prime locations, really cherry picking where we put our sites. Firstly, we need to look at a great catchment area and aim at the right sort of people to get the bread-and-butter customer business. Secondly, we look
for almost a touristy area where people will visit - like Woodbridge, where we have a great quay, and Southwold speaks for itself. A lot of thought goes into how the stores are planned and how they are presented with kitchenware as well as the wines.
What is your background?
I have only been with Adnams for a short time and I have really thrown myself in t o
it. For the last 10 years I have been a regional trainer in wines and spirits for Morrisons. Although you have massive customer business in Morrisons, 90% of supermarket customers know exactly what they are in there for and
will buy at supermarket prices. Our customers are
slightly more wine -conscious and
will want to converse about the wines , as well as needing some support with the knowledge of the wines as well.
What are your customers like?
Our typical customer is very wine knowledgeable - people that want to be impressed by the wines we stock, and also want to impress by the standard that they can offer at their dinner parties or gatherings. In Southwold you will have a big percentage of tourists , but here I would say we are about a
60-40 split, with 60% being a good core of local villages.
Size: 1,800 sq ft
Manager: Dale Phillips
Best sellers: Adnams White Burgundy (£7.50) and Adnams Claret (£6.99)
What is your background?
I have spent the last 18 years working in retail, selling all sorts of things: cars, kitchens, bedrooms, brown goods, white goods, with a bit of supermarket experience - there is a lot of retail background in me.
What are your customers like?
We get a whole mix. I think our customers are very discerning, they look on Adnams as people who know what we are talking about, and they are quite happy for us to recommend them a wine or a beer, or whatever it might be, because they trust us.
How do you promote the shop?
We have teamed up with the local
scouts to sponsor "Cork My Bluff"
- a game based on the TV programme . We supplied the wine and beer for the tasting , and we also supplied my deputy manager Luke as the wine expert. We have entered the Hadleigh agricultural show in the food tent. And we have just instigated an initiative with four other retailers in Hadleigh High Street - Partridge's Farm Shop, Pierpoints Butcher's, Ferguson's delicatessen and The Flower Shop. We are going to produce some leaflets and each retailer is going to have a stamp, so that when customers spend a certain amount three times in a six-week period, in four of the five retailers, they get a free bottle of Champagne.
Turnover/ : the C&K operation is targeted to take over £8 million this year
Southwold (two), Holkham, Woodbridge, Stamford, Harleston, Saffron Walden, Holt, Hadleigh, Richmond
Shop sizes: 1,500-4,000 sq ft
anything bigger than about 2,500 sq ft could fit a café concept. The new Southwold flagship store will be the biggest one
Product split: 63% wine , 32% kitchenware , 5% beer and cider