Embracing a new dynamic landscape

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the loss of First Quench – arguably the most significant event we’ve seen for decades. Since its backers called time on the UK’s largest off-licence chain, the trade has had to face some very dark days.

The retailing landscape has changed irrevocably during this time, and a year on it’s gratifying to be able to reflect on the emerging scene with genuine optimism.

In our last issue, we reported the launch of a new chain of Scottish off-licences, which is aiming for 50 outlets. What’s most striking about the Brand Invest Group is that its key investor is a bank – and they aren’t exactly known for being frivolous with their money right now. That it’s seen an opportunity for good high street operators in the current climate – and in a region facing huge uncertainties about the way alcohol will be sold in the future, signifies a big vote of confidence in the sector.

Also north of the border, Peckham’s, too, is looking to expand. And these entrepreneurs are far from alone. Throughout the year we’ve brought you news of the other operators entering the market and seeing a way to exploit their niche. This week, it’s the turn of newly formed Spirited Wine to share its vision along with Oddbins’ Simon Baile, who remains resolutely committed to making the high street thrive.

Baile, like other operators who have taken the plunge with multiple stores, is under no illusion that they are sailing a tough course. But as the hundreds of thriving independents across the country continue to tell us, the opportunity to sell alcohol beyond the big supermarkets certainly exists. However, it’s great the grocers are also reaping the benefits of life post-FQR.

First Quench will have many legacies, most significantly fuelling a different attitude towards selling alcohol and opening the market up to new blood and fresh thinking like never before. We’re seeing the emergence of a more dynamic market as businesses chase their share of the £687 million sales First Quench once owned and which are now up for grabs to retailers of all shapes and sizes.

Fresh pastures for Off Licence NewsJust as it’s exciting to reflect on such a positive new era for drinks retailing, OLN is delighted to announce a few changes of its own.

This week, we move from the William Reed Business Media stable to associated publishing house, Agile Media. Both companies have long-standing links, and Agile already manages former WRBM title Drinks International under licence.

OLN’s award-winning editorial team remains in place, ensuring our readers continuity in the quality coverage they have come to expect from us in our 147-year history. We will shortly be relocating to new offices down the road from our current Crawley base, but can still be reached on our existing contact details.

The entire OLN team is extremely positive about the opportunities our move to Agile Media will create and, as the leading title for the take-home sector, we are looking forward to the next chapter in our long, successful history.