Report shows chains suffering

Wine sales in multiple specialists have dropped by 3% and volumes by 5% in the past year as chains such as Threshers and Oddbins have closed shops, OLN's 2008 Wine Report has revealed.

In stark contrast , overall off-trade wine sales climbed 5% to £4.7 billion in the year to June 14, according to the

Nielsen figures unveiled in the report, with volumes up 3% - bearing up well despite shorter-term volume slumps.

Analyst Stewart Blunt said: "The loss of sales by the multiple specialists appears to correlate extremely strongly with the loss of shops.

"Were it not for the emergence and

the strengthening of Majestic, for example, and possibly the Wine Rack division of Thresher, the figures might have

been worse."

Specialist chains have seen their share of the wine market dwindle from 12.4% in June 2006 to 10.2% today. In volume terms they have just 8.4% of the market, down from 10.1% in 2006.

Over a longer period, the picture looks even bleaker. In OLN's first Wine Report in 2002, multiple specialists had a 15.2% share of the £2.9 million wine market - since then a number of major players, including Cellar 5, First Quench and Unwins, have disappeared .

Wine sales in multiple specialists have gone up by just 7% in the past six years, while overall off-trade wine sales have soared 59%.

Majestic Wine reported pre-tax profits up 3% to £16.7 million in the year to March 31 last month.

Oddbins joint managing director Eudes Morgan said he was confident the chains' premium position would help them outperform the market.

"These stores are all

in areas with a high disposable income, where people are buying the same amount of wine but are spending more per bottle," he said.

Wine Report 2008 page 21