Meininger's Wine Business International Power List

4th February 2015

SVS listed as one of just 10 UK independent merchants in this Power List survey...

"Simon Taylor gave up a 23-year career with auction house Sotheby’s to establish Stone, Vine & Sun in a former chicken shed near Winchester in 2002. All stock is held locally and duty-paid capital-intensive, concedes Taylor, but also low-cost in terms of storage and logistics (he found it was cheaper to ship wine direct from Chile than to get it sent down from London City Bond). Initially focused on the Rhône, Languedoc-Roussillon, Burgundy and the Loire, the company quickly recognised the need for diversification, moving into South Africa, Chile and Italy.

"The key to success as an indie, says Taylor, lies in flexibility. "I think you need to be able to sell down multiple channels," he argues. "We manage old-fashioned mail order, online, retail (we have a shop on the front of our warehouse), on-trade (from local Indian restaurants to the Chiltern Firehouse) and even the occasional sale to other independents."

"Taylor’s optimism, generated by record sales in December, is tempered by a less buoyant impression of the indie sector outside London: "I see a natural churn" as many businesses quietly closing as opening," he says, adding that he is unconvinced that the market is expanding as fast as the number of operators in it. "It also distresses me sometimes that customers can’t tell the difference between an independent who offers a wide range of unusual wines and ships over 90% of their wine direct from the producer (as we do) and one who just trots out the same over-priced schmutter from three or four big UK wholesalers (so not really independent at all)."

Richard Woodard, Wine Business International
4th February. 2015

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