Inverarity Morton ramps up wine range and on-trade support
TO say the last nine months have been busy for Inverarity Morton would be something of an understatement.
On top of the day to day operation of the business, supplying beers, wines and spirits to on-trade customers across Scotland, the firm has been integrating the Forth Wines business, which it acquired last October.
It’s a process which has involved merging the sales forces into one 30-strong team, 27 of which cover Scotland; integrating marketing and promotional activity; and finalising the 2019-strong wine list.
As Ian Cumming, commercial director at Inverarity Morton, told SLTN last week, the extensive portfolio is designed to cater for all styles of outlets.
“I think a lot of people thought that when we merged the lists it would be a slash and burn exercise; that we’d just put the two together and cut it in half,” he said.
“That was never going to happen.
“With 2019 wines it’s pretty comprehensive; it offers choice, variety and exclusives that I think no one can match us on.
“We’re really pleased with it.
“We tried to make sure that as many of the wines as possible are exclusive to us and also, where we can, sourced directly from the supplier.
“We have a broad customer base and we think we can supply any style of outlet in Scotland.
“We can also help outlets create a point of difference. We have 16 Pinot Grigios, for example, and about 12 Proseccos so it means we offer choice at various price points, which is particularly important at house level.”
Pinot Grigio remains the biggest selling varietal for Inverarity Morton, which supplies around 3000 Scottish customers from its depots in Glasgow and Milnathort.
But Cumming said other wine trends are emerging.
Consumer awareness of varietals like Picpoul and Albarino is growing, he said. There’s also a shift towards drier styles of rosé; organic wines – Inverarity Morton has just taken on a range of Spanish organic wines which Cumming said offer “great quality and value”; and light red wines served chilled.
Key to capitalising on these trends, and more, is staff training, he said.
It remains a major focus for Inverarity Morton and, according to Cumming, can have a major impact on an outlet and its wine sales.
“To survive in the independent on-trade you have to be good,” he said.
“Your competition is no longer just the pub next door, it’s ‘two meals and a bottle of wine’ from the supermarket.
“Consumers’ expectations are higher than ever; and people have more knowledge about wine and are more willing to experiment; they are willing to pay more for something different that offers good value and that’s where staff knowledge and training come in.
“It doesn’t need to be in-depth but if staff have knowledge of the product and can talk confidently about different flavour profiles it can make a huge difference and people are more likely to try something different. If you went to buy a car and the car salesman knew nothing about it you wouldn’t buy it, would you?
“It’s so important and we invest heavily in training.”
Training for bar and waiting staff is just one of several ways in which Inverarity Morton is providing ‘added value’ for its on-trade customers.
“The days of a wholesaler with boxes in a warehouse are gone now; you’ve got to do so much more,” added Cumming.
“We’ve got a much more focused approach and a very focused sales team.
“Sales, buying and marketing are all in place now [following the integration of Forth Wines]; the range is in place and the new list was printed last week.
“From a customer point of view it’s 100% foot to the floor.”