Many restaurants are changing the way they price the wines on their wine lists to help keep drink sales buoyant through the recession.
A traditional mark-up of 60 to 70 per cent of the wholesale price is being reduced, or replaced by a simple cash margin in some instances, to ensure that cash-strapped customers continue to buy wine.
Speaking at Wine Intelligence’s industry briefing on the state of wine in the on-trade at the London International Wine Fair today, Texture sommelier Xavier Rousset said top-end wines had started flying off the list when he changed his mark-up structure.
He said: “At the top end I was normally going on a margin of 60 to 70 per cent, but I now put a cash margin of say £15 on these wines. Some of these wines had been on the shelf for maybe a year (before the price change), but now they are selling really well. I think if a customer can see good value he will be more inclined to trade up.”
Lawrence Hartley, co-owner of Brula in Twickenham, whose wine sales have grown 3 per cent in the last year, agreed that customers would buy wine if they were sure of good value.†
“The number of people looking for a bargain is increasing, so as long as you give them that they will spend,” he said.
The restaurateur said he had reduced the number of expensive wines on his list and had replaced a Premier Cru Champagne with another from the same estate. He has also started selling more wines by the glass and the carafe, and increased the visibility of bottles to customers, which he said he believed had helped boost sales.
Bruce Poole, chef/proprietor of Chez Bruce in Wandsworth, said despite the pound’s weakness against the euro pushing the price of European wines up, he had not increased the price of his wines and was putting a cash margin on some of the top-end wines.
He said he was selling one French wine for less than half the price it was being sold at a fine dining restaurant in London, but believes keeping wine prices low is part of offering customers a good experience and encouraging repeat trade.
”The mark up on our wines is pretty low anyway,” he said. “It’s tempting to put prices up but we have remained stable on our pricing and our wine sales are very good. We are fanatical about wine, but we are also fanatical about our food and our service, so we make sure we deliver well in all those areas.”
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