Pub group Fuller's 2017 gamble of replacing house champagnes with English sparkling wine has paid off, with house fizz sales massively up on a year ago, according to the group’s head of wine, Neil Bruce.
‘Our sparkling wine sales at that level are up 50%, while our overall sales of English sparkling have gone up five-fold,’ he told Imbibe.
In April 2017, Fuller's removed around ten SKUs of its Collet champagne, replacing them with a white and rosé from Bolney Wine Estate in Sussex, a rosé from Furleigh Estate in Dorset and a Brut NV from Hambledon in Hampshire. Chapel Down’s Three Graces Brut was already on the list.
All five appear on the pub’s lists from £38-45 – the same kind of price as the Collet.
‘It’s not a price issue,’ said Bruce. ‘We were saying that we could replace the champagne with English wine without losing margin, and it’s at least as good, if not better quality. Customers get that.’
Fuller's is thinking of adding two more sparkling English wines to its list – a rosé and a white – this year, but the fizz growth won’t necessarily lead to a big bounce for still wines.
‘I wouldn’t necessarily make the link that because people are happy to drink English fizz they are also happy to drink English still wines,’ says Bruce. ‘We are looking for more, but there’s more mileage in fizz.’
Last year, Imbibe reported that England had overtaken Spain to become the third most-listed sparkling wine producer after Champagne and Italy.