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Sainsbury's, Oddbins to Launch Joint U.K. Wine Venture

[London, ENGLAND] Supermarket group Sainsbury's has announced it is entering a joint venture with wine retailer Oddbins Ltd to launch a direct-to-consumer wine service in the U.K. early next year.

The two companies plan to use both digital and traditional channels to reach customers, and say they will leverage Sainsbury's joint venture with Carlton TV to exploit interactive opportunities.

Allan Cheesman, director for wine at Sainsbury's, hailed the deal as a winning combination and said it was "unrivalled in the world of wine."

"This proposed venture is another step forward in Sainsburys' e-commerce strategy. We are creating a venture with unparalleled appeal for consumers seeking to explore and experience with confidence the world of wine."

In the United States, wine retailing was one of the first applications of e-commerce, with the establishment of Virtual Vineyards in the mid-90s. In Europe, online wine stores came later, and now there are hundreds of ways of spending money on wine, from The Bin Club to Tanglewood Wine Tours and Premier Cru Fine Wine Investments.

However, Sainsbury's and Oddbins is a particularly powerful combination, as both are household names and well-respected for quality as well as choice. The new venture will offer 3,000 premium wines in the US $6-and-above range, and will sell most of them by the case.

Richard Macadam, managing director at Oddbins, claimed that buying direct would never be the same again.

"What is unbeatable about this proposition is our ability to combine this visionary step forward in wine retailing with the strengths we both bring from the high-street - Sainsbury's focus on quality and choice and Oddbins' passion for the product, innovation and customer service," said Macadam.

The partners said that further details about the venture would be made available in Spring next year, closer to the launch date. The deal is still subject to signing detailed agreements.