Commercial Director’s Q&A with Lewis O’Sullivan from The Drinks Business

Such an exciting insight into Bermar International Ltd’s Le Verre de Vin technology. Tom Berresford the Commercial Director at Bermar International Ltd was kindly ask to do a Q&A for The Drinks Business. With English sparkling wines on the rise, our product is vital to keep your bubbly bubbling!

To find out more about how we are leading the wine and fizz revolution continue reading below:

How would you describe the development of your product since it launched? What changes/upgrades have you made and why?

After 2 years in development Le Verre de Vin was first launched to the trade in 1991 as a still wine preservation system, in a wall mounted ‘bottle shape’, that we have retained and now call the ‘Classic’. In the 27 years since, we’ve upgraded and improved the system’s technology numerous times: importantly introducing Champagne/sparkling wine preservation, under counter and bar top mounted options as well as the stunning Pod Bar range. Whilst the principles of our preservation technology remain unchanged, the mechanism for delivering ever improving preservation performance has been updated and improved continuously (much like the refinement of the internal combustion engine!) Our latest range of Le Verre de Vin systems have enhanced aesthetic appeal to ensure there’s a version for each and every business, whilst also ticking the boxes on speed and precision and offering the lowest ever power consumption and cost of ownership.

How many countries is it now sold in?

With some 75% of our production now heading overseas, we can count customers in 82 countries around the world, including some of the largest wine producing markets (Italy, Spain, France, USA, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia) as well as some beautiful and far-flung corners of the globe (Curacao, Mauritius and Fiji to name a few!)

How many retail/trade partners do you have?

We now have some 45 Distributors globally who oversee sales and marketing in more than 60 territories. In addition we’re pleased to manage many global relationships encompassing hotel groups, restaurants and winemakers.

Do you have any figures for the number of restaurants etc that use your system?

There are now around 50,000 Le Verre de Vin users globally with almost 10,000 of them in the UK alone.

Do you have any more general year-on-year sales figures that you can share?

Since 2015 our global turnover has increased by 50%.  For many years we ploughed a fairly lonely furrow as industry leaders in a sector that very few operators addressed.  In recent times there has been an increasing awareness of the service and profit opportunities that are achievable by running a successful wine and Champagne by the glass programme. Our team has grown significantly over the past 3 years too with new partners around the world and team members at our manufacturing facility here in the UK.

What would you say are its main advantages over other systems – specifically Enomatic?

In 4 words, price, flexibility, fizz and service.

It’s probably best to compare Le Verre de Vin systems to dispensers by looking at exactly what the respective systems were developed for. Le Verre de Vin systems were designed specifically to allow on-trade operators to deliver a perfect wine and sparkling wine by the glass service. The systems are simple to install, small enough to fit into any business and are renowned for their reliability and unparalleled preservation of an unlimited number of open bottles of still and/or sparkling wine. They typically deliver a full return on investment in just a few months and sit at the heart of great wine by the glass service, or ‘perfect serve’, where a bottle is presented to the customer (at the table or the bar), a taste is then poured (as though the customer was buying the bottle), the glass is poured and the bottle then returned to the bar for resealing. Great service has always been important, but is especially so in the ever more demanding world of premium wine and fizz by the glass.

On the other hand, most dispensers were designed to offer small tastes (on a paid or FOC basis), in retail or off-trade outlets.  With tastes of 25 or 30ml bottles would need to be changed once in every 25 or 30 dispenses.  Customers would move up and down a line of spigots and select their choice of self-service tastes. Transferring this technology to on-trade operations (with average full glass dispenses of 175ml) means bottles are changed every 4 glasses and each glass is delivered ‘plated’ to the guest. Couple this with the cost of dispensers and the fact that they don’t preserve/dispense Champagnes/fizz and you might ask whether they’re ideal in the hustle and bustle of a busy on-trade operation.

What is the price range for your different products?

Our systems range from approximately £1,500 for a Champagne Only model through to £4,000+ for some of our largest Pod Bar configurations. We believe that this breadth in price-range gives operators the ability to ‘shop’ and select the most appropriate model for their individual business and circumstances.

What setbacks have you hit over the years and how have you overcome them?

Being so closely aligned to the global hospitality markets we are, of course, impacted by broader economic cycles. When recessions hit, people tend to eat out less and, as a result, investment in F&B led operations can stall significantly. We endured the market fall of 2008 as well as the earlier recessions in the ‘90’s, and as a UK manufacturer we were concerned about the potential impact of the  Brexit vote. The truth however is that during tough times while people dine (and drink!) out less, a great offer can entice them to make more premium choices when they do. So operators have a great opportunity, during the good times and the tough ones, to entice customers with a more interesting selection of premium wines and sparkling wines by the glass.

Around the world consumers are more adventurous than they ever have been and this is proving a springboard into the future for our business as operators come to realise the potential they have to unlock profits hidden in their wine by the glass offers.