Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Liberty Wines prioritises customer education over London Wine Fair

Published:  27 February, 2014

Liberty Wines is prioritising its customer roadshows ahead of major trade exhibitions and won't be attending London Wine Fair this year. 

Liberty Wines is prioritising its customer roadshows ahead of major trade exhibitions and won't be attending London Wine Fair this year. 

Speaking from the firm's roadshow in Manchester this morning, managing director David Gleave MW told, that it had seen 600 customers this week and was observing a return of confidence, although buyers are still cost-conscious.

The company held its London tasting back in January, but has since hit the road this week visiting Bristol, Edinburgh, Dublin and Manchester.

"We've seen over 600 customers in four days," said Gleave, with Bristol and Manchester in their second year as stops on the annual roadshow. It has brought over 20 producers from all around  the world.

Liberty will not be attending London Wine Fair this year, as Gleave thought the June timing was bad. "We've taken the money we used to have for LWF and now we're spending it on tastings and education for our customers. It's been a far more focused and targeted way of spending our limited marketing funds."

But he didn't rule out a future return, depending on location and timing of future London Wine Fairs.

Gleave said October to December 2013 were its busiest ever three months, adding that the momentum has continued into 2014. "January was a big step up on the previous January. We are seeing a bit more confidence from our customers but things are still very competitive. They're looking at whatever they can to save money," he added. But Liberty is not the cheap option, its core wines sit between rrp £8 to £15, so instead it has focused on further improving customer service and introducing new wines, as well as craft beers and spirits.

Picking out trends for 2014, Gleave said Prosecco is still very strong - and not just in the UK - Liberty is closely involved in making and selling Prosecco internationally. He said Valpolicella, and in particular Ripasso, bulk prices "have gone up quite significantly" in the past year because of demand. Outside of Italy, Liberty has added producers from north and Spain and has just completed making its own wine from the north of Spain for the first time. "Gratifyingly, we're also seeing growth in premium Australian wines," after having been fairly flat for the past few years, he said.

The firm moved into bespoke new office and warehouse space last year in Clapham, which Gleave said had enabled the firm to up its service levels as well as direct deliveries. It is also using the building for education purposes, having brought in 60-70 customers for training over the course of a week recently. "We have always felt education was vitally important because of the types of wine we sell," he told

"[The UK market] has lost volume in wine and will continue to do so unless we can convince consumers that wine remains good value despite prices going up. The only way to do that is through education."