M&S to ramp up store wine advice

Marks & Spencer is looking to recruit almost 200 wine advisers for its out-of-town superstores and town centre food halls.

The retailer is also reviewing the design of its BWS fixtures, looking at areas such as shelf-edge information and electronic customer interaction.

BWS category manager Andrew Bird told OLN he hoped to increase the number of wine advisers from its current 112 to 200 within a year – and eventually have them in all 300 of its larger stores.

Recruitment will be on a store-by-store basis by individual managers.

“Wine advisers are very important for us – in the same way restaurants invest in sommeliers,” said Bird. “They are a good way of getting people to trade up and they create a good atmosphere in our shops.”?Bird said wine advisers were, and would be, a mixture of internal appointments and external recruitment, but with more of the latter.

“We have benefited from a few people joining us from the old First Quench estate,” said Bird. “We have no problem with people who join us from Oddbins, Majestic or Thresher, who know their wines and are enthusiastic.

“A year from now we’ll definitely be more than two-thirds of the way there – with over 200 wine advisers.”?Bird says M&S was looking to develop a range of 50cl wines and could introduce some 75cl bottles in PET. The multiple has already put all of its 25cl range in plastic.

“We’re looking at PET,” Bird added. “We’ve gone into 25cl, which appears to be a great success because they are environmentally more sensitive and a lot more convenient in that they aren’t heavy and don’t break. Why shouldn’t that be equally relevant in 75cl?”?Bird said he expected to have some 50cl wines in store “by the end of this calendar year”.

“It’s something we are looking at – we’re weighing up the extent to which we’d like to have 50cl in the range,” he said.

“They look extremely smart and they allow customers who are looking to control their alcohol intake to buy a smaller size. It’s part and parcel of fitting in with the way people want to live their lives.”

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