R.I.P. Oddbins

April 5th, 2011 | Uncategorized

Last Thursday must be viewed as a very sad day in the UK wine trade when the announcement was made that the Oddbins chain of wine shops was going into administration with debts of more than £20 million.

It is not that many years ago that Oddbins was regarded as the most avant garde of all wine retailers, and to be present on their shelves was one of the greatest accolades for any serious producer.

In those days not only did they have the most cutting-edge selection of wines, but they also boasted a highly original catalogue illustrated by the artist Ralph Steadman. By far their greatest asset at that time however, was one of the most highly respected buyers in the UK wine trade. No, not me, but a chap called Steve Daniel, who from personal experience I can tell you, had a very fine palate. It was Steve’s exciting selection of new and original wines that put Oddbins at the forefront of the UK retail trade, and on the customer ‘wishlist’ of every wine producer.

To quote my journalist friend Tim Atkin, Oddbins were “quirky, audacious, arrogant and bloody good at what they did”….. long may they be remembered for their contibution in helping to make London (and the UK) the ‘shop window of the wine world’.

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