Ulster Grocer

| 11.7°C Belfast

JN Wine attributes success to post-Brexit geographic spread


James Nicholson, managing director, JN Wine.

James Nicholson, managing director, JN Wine.

James Nicholson, managing director, JN Wine.

JN Wine and its 2019 acquisition Highbury Vintners have picked up three accolades at the International Wine Challenge (IWC) UK Merchant Awards, with the Crossgar-based business attributing its success to bases in NI, RoI and GB.

Highbury Vintners won both the IWC Regional Merchant of the Year for London and IWC Small Independent Merchant of the Year, while JN Wine was recognised as IWC Regional Merchant of the Year for Northern Ireland.

JN Wine acquired Highbury Vintners in September 2019, and immediately unveiled plans for major investment in the London wine retailer.

Following a store refurbishment and digital investment, Highbury Vintners has doubled turnover and plans are underway to expand the business further.

Across both companies, online sales have increased by more than 300% during the lockdowns, as the business pivoted from hospitality to online sales and home deliveries.

“Sales in Highbury Vintners have grown by 55% in the past year, and we are continuing to invest to drive this growth further,” said James Nicholson, managing director. “We have also experienced a substantial increase in sales from Northern Ireland to the UK market since the introduction of the NI Protocol.

“There have certainly been challenges across European markets but there have also been opportunities, particularly given our unique position and that we have bases now in a range of markets. We can deliver easily and efficiently, no matter where people are based.

Weekly Business Digest

Margaret Canning’s selection of the must-read business stories straight to your inbox every Tuesday morning

This field is required

“We were really thrilled to acquire Highbury Vintners, ensuring its legacy continues, and this recognition has really highlighted the success of this approach.

“Everyone across JN Wine and Highbury Vintners has gone above and beyond since the pandemic struck and have continued to offer a great service. Winning these prestigious awards is fitting recognition of their efforts and how we really work closely together to deliver on our commitment to offer high quality wines from family and artisan wineries around the world.”

Tom Hemmingway, general manager of Highbury Vintners, said: “This has been one of the most challenging times for the wine trade, but everyone has worked hard to keep our customers satisfied. The team certainly deserves this recognition, and it is fantastic to see this after the focused investment and acquisition.

“During the past year we have also rebuilt our website, refurbished our shop and continued our charitable work in the community. Most of all, we have remained true to our offering and values to bring our customers excellent wine from across the globe.”