Wine retailer Unwins is launching a store format to sell premium wine ranges.
Called Phillips Newman, the “upmarket” retail concept will trade on the eponymous name of the wine and spirits business that acquired Unwins in 1921.
The Unwins business is owned by 84 shareholders, all descendants of Michael Wetz, the founder of the Phillips Newman business.
The launch follows close on the heels of rival off-licence Thresher Group’s move into convenience stores selling alcoholic drinks, tobacco and snacks. The group is piloting a format called The Local, which will also offer ready meals, groceries, film rentals, newspapers and magazines, as well as cash machines and lottery tickets.
The new Phillips Newman store is unlikely to sell non-food items at the moment and will concentrate on its premium wine offering. Industry insiders say most Unwins stores are too small and “downmarket” to be relaunched as convenience stores.
Phillips Newman is being rolled out just weeks after shareholders decided to put the off-licence business on the market. It has been reported that Unwins has been seeking venture capital for a few months in an attempt to stay an independent company.
The off-licence retailer has been under intense pressure from supermarket groups such as Asda and Tesco, both of which have increasingly been encroaching on its traditional territory of selling wine at discounted prices.