Oddbins has deemed its new strategy of focusing on better quality product a success and is considering expanding its portfolio for the first time in almost two years.
The drinks specialist was bought by the former managing director’s son Simon Baile in 2008 when the chain was making a loss of about £10m.
He expects the business to break even this year, and claimed it is recording double-digit sales growth from its 127 stores. Now Oddbins is on a better footing Baile said he hopes to start opening shops this year for the first time since buying the business.
“We have taken the business apart and put it back together again,” said Baile. “When we came in there was lack of attention to quality of product and it was dragging it down to the same level as Threshers and the supermarkets.”
Oddbins’ new management has installed between 600 and 700 new lines of mainly higher-end product from smaller and more specialist suppliers.
Baile said that with its higher positioning it would be able to trade comfortably against the supermarkets. Competing against the grocers was one reason given for the demise of the Threshers chain last year.
Oddbins has seen “some upswing” in sales from stores close to where Threshers or Wine Rack once traded.
But Baile emphasised that Threshers’ demise was only one factor in improving trade. Oddbins has been working on innovations such as in-store tasting areas that may be rolled out to more stores from the existing three.
Baile is also considering a small food offer, such as cheeses, and hopes to up marketing activity now the business is in a better position.
Later this year Oddbins will relaunch its website. At present online accounts for 3% of sales. Baile said there was great potential to increase that and hopes in the coming years to take online sales to 10% of total revenue.