The face of the High Street may have changed for ever last year with the demise of so many specialist off licences, but their loss has opened a door for independent c-store retailers with the enthusiasm to succeed where the chains failed.

Supermarket pricing may be under scrutiny, but for now they have a price advantage few smaller operations can match. However, E & J Gallo Winery's channel controller of UK impulse David Mallory says there's been a shift in emphasis since last year's shake-up. "During 2009, the UK wine industry was focused on value relating to price, due to the economic climate, but 2010 needs to be about value relating to both price and quality if the industry is to generate sustained profitable growth," he says. "Customers are looking to familiar brands that they know they can trust, so our plan is to offer value through improved quality, which will deliver superior value for money."

Philip Amps of Amps Fine Wines in Peterborough is a wine specialist. "A lot of customers are interested in what's in the bottle, so make your offer interesting," he says. "It doesn't have to be about price point it can be about personality."

There's also been a move towards more indulgent home consumption. Research by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association shows consumers are willing to spend more on a bottle of wine to drink at home, with a 30% increase in the number of regular wine drinkers paying more than £7 per bottle, a trend to please impulse retailers.

Clare Griffiths, VP European consumer marketing for Constellation Europe, confirms that shoppers are continuing to buy wine despite the tough economic climate, with value sales up 6.4%. "We expect to see continued growth of the category within the UK convenience channel," she says.

Tips for tipples
John Fergusson-Cooper, trading controller at Landmark Wholesale, has a checklist for making wine pay its way on your shelves l Chill. Play to your strengths and offer something the multiple grocers can't chilled wine l Wine tasting. Encourage customers to try something different by offering in-store wine tastings, and get them to trade up l Linked promotions. Link wine purchases with ready meals l Range. Use a planogram which ensures a broad range of styles, countries, bottle size and price points l Own brands and brands. Stock both to appeal to more customers and make good margins on the own brands and exclusive wines in our case that's the Vintners Collection and La Flamenca ranges. l Pricing. Ensure your stock is clearly priced, particularly when on promotion, as customers don't like having to ask how much a wine is l Trends. Chardonnay is still the most asked for varietal, but sauvignon blanc is increasing in popularity as is pinot grigio. Rosé is still in growth (+8%) and now has 12% of the market, particularly the sweeter rosé styles from California. New World wines dominate this sector with New Zealand, Chile and South Africa seeing the greatest increases.
But like any category, wine won't sell all by itself and the fixture requires a regular critical eye from the retailer. "You have to review your range and give some thought to your wine offering well in advance so that you are stocked up on the right brands, at the right prices, in time to capitalise on lucrative sales during the warmer months when al fresco entertaining will peak," Griffith adds.

Mallory believes that wine, particularly recognised brands, remains one of the c-store's strongest offers for last-minute gifts for this summer's celebrations. "Displaying wine out of section will ensure that all customers will have the opportunity to see what you have available and increase impulse purchases," he says. "Regularly updating displays at the front of the store with new and interesting wine encourages shoppers to try something new and may result in them trading up."

The weather aside, it's money worries that will bring consumers back to the local shop. A poll of UK wine drinkers by Wine Intelligence suggests more consumers are choosing to spend on wine at home with a meal rather than spend on a night out. It shows that 13% of regular UK wine drinkers now spend more than £7 per bottle of wine compared with 10% last year.

The appeal of rosé, the star performer of recent years, shows little sign of waning. Indeed, Constellation's Griffiths says 87% of total volume growth in recent years is attributable to rosé.

Alvin Saal, brand manager for Mateus Rosé, adds that now is traditionally a very strong sales period for rosé. First Drinks is putting "significant investment" behind the brand, which saw 12% value growth last year, with a neck collar promotion offering a chance to win a holiday in the Algarve.

Constellation has a rosé offering built around Echo Falls Spritz, Hardys, Kumala and the newer Chilean brand, Gran Tierra. It has recently added Mondavi Woodbridge Shiraz Rosé.

Gallo Family Vineyards main promotional push this summer is for the Gallo Rosito, a combination of white grenache, ginger ale and summer fruits. It recommends displaying the wine alongside ginger ale to demonstrate its versatility to impulse shoppers.

Adding a few bubbles won't hurt sales, either. The sparkling wine market is currently worth £328m and is growing at 11%, according to Nielsen, and the sparkling rosé wine category is growing at about 16% year on year. Australian wine brand Wolf Blass has added a new sparkling rosé to its Yellow Label range this summer to capitalise on this growing popularity.

"Branded sparkling wine is now a must stock for all retailers, but especially during the key summer sales period," says Neil Barker of supplier Foster's EMEA.

CWF says consumer demand for Prosecco has risen significantly over the past two years, and has introduced Casa Gheller. It's a Prosecco DOC Frizzante (lightly sparkling) in a screwtop bottle, rrp of £6.99. CWF's Vicky Lee says: 'It's a well packaged and good value wine at a time of increasing interest in this style."

For stores looking for a pricing offer to match the supermarkets, Landmark Wholesale trading controller John Fergusson-Cooper believes the group can offer wines with the right balance of price and quality. "We are introducing a number of value wines which we believe will be perfectly suited to our present trading environment. Although value was the prime driver in the selection of these wines, the quality of the range will make sure that consumers will keep coming back for more."

The first of these is La Flamenca, available in red, dry white, medium white and rosé. It's a "price fighting" Spanish wine which Fergusson-Cooper says can be sold at £3.49, giving a margin of 16%, or as a '3 for £10' offer at 12%.
wine insider
Master of Wine Laura Jewell, former Spar UK wine controller, shares some of her tips for making the most of the category 

Most c-store retailers don't know much about wine. Does this matter? 
We encourage all of our retailers to get the basics right, from using the appropriate planogram, to merchandising, using POS well and ensuring promotions work as well as they can. They don't need to be an expert, but if they are enthusiastic then they will trade people up and sell more.
After last year's closures of dedicated off-licence chains, can c-stores take on the role of the high street wine expert?
 A small c-store will not have the same space dedicated to wine that a Thresher store had, but they can make sure that the range offered is varied across countries, brands and price points. Spar has just held its first wine festival, with 25% off South African and French wines, which has been a great success. In-store pos and merchandising pull in new customers. 

Is there room for bottles over £10 in a convenience set up? 
There is always room for one or two stick to the well known generics such as Sancerre and Barolo, and don't let them get dusty on the top shelf put them in the main range, and highlight them with tasting notes or a medal or a journalist endorsement. 

Any recommendations? 
We have had great success with the Chilean range, the Chardonnay and Merlot offering modern styles, alongside our South African range with the red, white and rosé selling out during our wine festival. We are also very pleased with our Silver medal winners this year Chablis, Châteauneuf du Pape, and our exclusive Ursa Maior Rioja Reserva.
One for the road 
Hardys is showcasing its Nottage Hill brand at a series of high footfall consumer events throughout the year and giving consumers the chance to sample the newly launched 
FreshCase. It will be sampling FreshCase Nottage Hill Chardonnay and Cabernet Shiraz at Taste of London, the BBC Good Food Shows as well as MasterChef Live. 
tel: 01483 690000 

All change 
Pernod Ricard's New Zealand brand Montana will be known as Brancott Estate globally from October to reflect the heritage of Brancott Estate, the vineyard where the the first commercial grapes of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc were planted more than 30 years ago. An increased promotional spend will ease the transition. 
tel: 020 8538 4484 

Best of both 
TV sports presenter Georgie Thompson has teamed up with Gallo Family Vineyards to promote a summer of football and wine. Gallo says the partnership combines Thompson's football knowledge with Gallo's portfolio of rosé wines to target women during the World Cup while sharing beauty and style tips online at tel: 01895 813444 

Silver service 
CWF is extending the Silver Bay Point brand of British wines into a new lightly sparkling format. Silver Bay Point Lightly Sparkling is available in white and rosé variants at 5.5% abv. CWF says they meet demand for lower priced wines and is targeting women aged 25-45 looking to control their alcohol consumption. rrp £2.99 
tel: 01484 557111 

Best foot forward 
Californian brand Barefoot Wine is stepping up its marketing by sponsoring festivals such as the Camden Crawl Music Festival, and a partnership with the National Union of Students. With a range of merlot, pinot grigio and white zinfandel, the brand has grown steadily since joining the E&J Gallo Winery portfolio. rrp: £5.99 
tel: 01895 813444
56% of wine drinkers say they regularly drink pinot grigio compared with 43% three years ago. 

Chardonnay has gone from 71% to 63% over the same period 

Rosé accounts for 18% of wines consumed by UK regular wine drinkers, up from 10% in 2007, with white wine the loser, down from 45% to 37% 

The number of people who drink wine most days or every day is 12%, compared with 17% in 2007 

Those saying they don't buy wine in pubs and restaurants has risen by a third from 9% to 12% 

Consumers are increasingly willing to consider wines with abv levels below 12.5%. 

Source: Wine Intelligence