Continuing our series looking behind the scenes at suppliers to the hospitality market, we catch up with James Salmon, general manager, ViVAS.
Q How would you describe your business?
A We are one of the top national specialist wine suppliers to the hospitality and food service sector. The service we provide goes beyond the selection of wines and focuses on creating tailored wine solutions for customers that incorporate training and marketing support.
Q What is the company's objective?
A Accessibility lies at the heart of the ViVAS business. It is important to make wine accessible to our customers and, in turn, their consumers. This relates to a number of areas, whether it is as simple as offering regular or consolidated deliveries or working in partnership with a customer to create clear and concise wine lists that will attract consumers. It can also translate into marketing support, advice on the latest trends or training to demystify the category and increase staff confidence.
Q What are the current issues facing your food service customers?
A Two issues immediately spring to mind: consumer buying confidence and wine knowledge. Disposable incomes have reduced and people are still nervous about spending. Persuading consumers to trade up remains one of the biggest challenges. Our team works closely with customers to equip them with the tools, training and knowledge needed to really eke out every bit of opportunity and drive profit.
Q How do you help them address these issues?
A We offer relevant pricing strategies that will help them attract customers and create lists that focus on creating a good turnover. Tailored solutions rather than a "one size fits all" approach have also helped our customers, and we back everything with toolkits and the necessary training.
Q Do you think licensed premises and drinks producers have a responsibility to get on board with Government initiatives to encourage responsible drinking? How can they make a difference?
A Without a doubt. If we don't act as a collective, we'll feel the full force of the Government. Making a difference is not an overnight process but it starts with simple ideas like more responsible promotions and looking at driving the bottom line in other ways - for example, using food and drink promotions, smaller measures, etc.
Q Where do you stand on the ban on happy hours and other cut-price drinks promotions? What does this mean for the hospitality industry?
A Wine is not affected in the same way by these promotions as beers and spirits. These types of mechanics are obviously still key to the success of some outlets. They should be discouraged though, and we do not support them.
Q What are the implications for the drinks industry of the new Government?
A That is the million pound question! The full impact still remains to be seen. We held our breath prior to the announcement of the emergency Budget, but the levies that we as an industry were half expecting did not materialise. I firmly believe that it's a case of "watch this space".
Q What questions do your customers ask most regularly?
A They ask for advice on a range of topics including food and wine matching, styles of wine, consumer trends and upselling.
Q What do you believe will be the next big trend in your market?
A Serving size. 125ml will inevitably become the standard size for a glass of wine as the Government moves to reinforce responsible drinking legislation. We see it as a very positive move for a number of reasons.
First, it reduces the cost of entry into the wine category as the cost per glass comes down. Second, it will encourage people to try wines, as they won't have to spend as much and so the risk factor is reduced. Third, it's actually more likely that people will have another glass of 125ml than another 175ml, giving you a higher average spend. Also, it enhances the perfect serve as the wine remains at the ideal temperature rather than warming up in the glass.
Q Where does the company stand on green issues?
A With parent companies like Bibendum and 3663, who are both sustainability leaders in their respective fields, ViVAS has it firmly established as one of the key business influencers. We use our knowledge to the benefit of our customers and give them the opportunity to order Fairtrade wines, lightweighted products, efficient distribution and consolidation of orders, etc.
Q Long term, where's the business going?
A We don't want to be the biggest, but being recognised by our customers as the best wine supplier for our range, value and ability is the accolade we strive for.
Company name ViVAS
Address Buckingham Court, Kingsmead Business Park, London Road, High Wycombe, HP11 1JU
Tel 03703 663000
Websitehttp://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/05/27/333582/Unilever-Foodsolutions-Supplier-profile.htm" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">www.vivaswine.com ](http://www.vivaswine.com)Area of operation Nationwide
Products Wines, beers and spirits
Brands More than 50% exclusive wines (not available on high street)
Market sectors Restaurants, hotels, cost sector, pubs
MORE SUPPLIER PROFILES ON CATERERSEARCH