Unwins wine concept outlets to go national

Unwins is laying down plans to expand Phillips Newman, its wine retail concept, both nationwide and overseas.

Phillips Newman is unusual for a wine merchant in that it classifies wine by taste rather than region. Its two outlets, which opened in May 2004, offer in-store tastings of a number of wines each week.

Unwins is looking at converting about 15 of its 380 stores into Phillips Newman outlets over the next year.

Marketing director Ian McLernon said the company was also looking at expanding the concept overseas and has spoken to prospective partners in Germany and Austria.

The roll-out will be supported with an advertising campaign by Unwins' agency, Seventh Floor.

Unwins had planned to roll out the Phillips Newman chain earlier, but a takeover by DM Private Equity in March forced a rethink.

Unwins axed about 50 jobs following the takeover, consolidating its sales and marketing departments and expanding McLernon's role to cover both.

The takeover also led to the closure of 41 high-street stores.

Separately, Unwins is exploring the feasibility of launching an own-label wine under the Phillips Newman brand. It is also looking at bringing out a series of own-brand beers.

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