Whither Oddbins?

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Tom Cannavan, Jul 14, 2020.

  1. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    Reviewing a wine this morning where Oddbins was listed as a stockist, I find, as so often happens, that there is no sign of it on their website. That also made me think that it is literally years since I had any communication from them: no invites to press tastings, no samples offered, no news whatsoever.

    I know they have struggled from one financial crisis to another, but I can't help feeling there is something pretty terminal feeling about the whole operation these days. I do hope someone from Oddbins reads the forum and comes on to tell us of their bright and sunlit future. I wish them well, as I have for four decades now.
     
  2. Hello Tom, It's been a wee while since a had look at their website. I am quite astonished by how few wines there are on there. The product filter is very basic and the tags don't work. Just before I left they offered me a $10 voucher. Can't help thinking the website is a bit unloved. Surely the shops have more stock than this?
     
  3. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    Richard, I haven't been into a store for a long time, but it's the 'state' of the web site, out of stock items, lack of communication and a generally feeling that the stores are now just rather anonymous and unloved that made me post. It still saddens me, but I feel that even the core Oddbins audience - a lot of us - has been lost.
     
  4. I haven't bought from Oddbins since their shop in St Albans closed. I used to walk past it every weekend and it was a rare occurrence not to pop-in and buy a bottle or two. (As I was walking I bought only what I could carry!)

    They had such interesting and quirky wines. One time they had introduced around 30 Greek wines - I recall a fantastic Syrah (but can't quite recall the winery name - Gervass....?)
    and then they had several Randal Grahm wines from California and France, and those Ralph Steadman cartoon labels.

    It was always great to browse, and they had enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff. Sorely missed when they went.
     
  5. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    Without checking spelling, it was Gerovassillou I believe Peter? Then buyer Steve Daniels now majoring on Greece again with Hallgarten
     
  6. I feel a great disjoint between the Oddbins we all knew and loved, and the brand that has been kicked from pillar to post (and in one iteration 'fleeced').

    The last time I went into one of the shops, the shelves were maybe half to 2/3 full, the wines much more humdrum and the prices unattractive. That was a few years ago now.

    The value of the brand mostly eroded, and I'd argue someone either needs to 'go big' on it, or retire it.
     
    Tom Cannavan likes this.
  7. Its a couple of years since I was in, but the Queensferry Street shop in Edinburgh, which still has the Oddbins Fine Wine section, was very well stocked.
     
    Tom Cannavan likes this.
  8. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    Used to buy from that shop fairly often a long, long time ago - very good manager whose name escapes me.
     
  9. The shop in Blackheath, SE London had a modest selection of quaffers and semi decent wines ..... and then some Vega Sicilia, Valbuena, top end Bdx and mature Beaucastel. I could never work out the thought process.
     
  10. That rings a bell thanks!
     
  11. I think the space in the market they occupied is long gone. Practically every wine region in the world has been discovered (or rediscovered) and there simply aren't enough new/quirky/interesting wines for them to have a distinctive range. Aldi's current online range has a breadth that would have had customers flocking to Oddbins in the Seagram days but now barely gets noticed.
     
  12. A glance at their website doesn't necessarily confirm that view, Paul.
    Has their Cremant Du Jura gone the way of their good olive oil?
     
  13. I don't know. There are 526 denominations in Italy alone with some as small as a hectare, so still lots to discover from this country. We (the UK) barely scratch the surface.
     
    Ian Sutton likes this.
  14. I agree with a lot of that Paul, plus on line shopping has increased exponentially. How many of us buy unmixed cases or EP from a high street merchant now?

    Another thing we forget at our end of the spectrum is that a high street merchant's bread and butter is not growth claret and 1er cru burgundy but 'everyday' wines. Average spend per bottle last year is still under £6.
     
  15. Aldi has a 100-wine selection from 14 countries with varieties (conveniently) from Albarino to Zweigelt. I call that broad (albeit small compared with a specialist merchant)
    I suspect their Cremant de Jura is simply sold out until the next vintage - I've seen this before.

    (edited for clarity)
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2020
  16. Broad but not deep. 760 wine SKUs at Majestic online, who must b the main high street competitor to Oddbins
     
  17. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    Richard, the 100 quoted by Paul is referring to Aldi. Not sure how many lines in Oddbins
     
  18. Oops my bad. 159 in Oddbins
     
  19. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    Not much better! :(
     
    Ian Sutton likes this.
  20. On 5 June Duff & Phelps announced "the sale of a substantial part of the business and assets of Whittals Wine Merchants and associated companies which traded as oddbins and certain other brands."
    A spokesperson said the sale was achieved despite the current financial situation and secured the jobs of people employed in 28 stores.
     
  21. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    Thanks David. What I don't is whether that's good or bad news.... Whittals being the latest in a string of owners not to make a real go of it :(
     

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