Yesterday a visit to the new Makro Montague Gardens, which opened on 26 October, replacing the 40 year old Milnerton store. I was there to visit wine buyer Carolyn Barton, who is immensely proud of her 75m of shelf facings devoted to wine.
The business is owned by Massmart, a JSE listed company which as of recently is 51% owned by Wal- Mart, US based and the largest retailer in the world. Concern has been expressed in some quarters that Wal-Mart will exercise its global buying power to the detriment of local suppliers, but Barton foresees little impact on the way she operates. “Makro has 1 200 wine labels across all stores. International wines make up only 4% of turn-over and that’s mostly Champagne. Local is lekker as far as our customers are concerned”.
Makro has 16 stores across the country, and the break-down of wine sales is as follows: 35.5% red, 27% white (including perlé), 15% sparkling, 10.5% box wine, 5.5% rosé and 6.5% fortifieds. Blends are the biggest category when it comes to reds, the top three brands in terms of sales being 1) Nederburg Baronne, 2) Alto Rouge and 3) Tassenberg. Meanwhile, Sauvignon Blanc is the biggest white category, top three brands being 1) Two Oceans; 2) Porcupine Ridge and 3) Du Toitskloof. “There’s a big wholesale component to our business – restaurants and taverns influence what moves,” says Barton.