Selsey off-license owner diversifies his business

Andy Short stacking up his Winebulance with supplies. Picture by Kate Shemilt
Andy Short stacking up his Winebulance with supplies. Picture by Kate Shemilt

IF you’ve seen the Winebulance slogan ‘Stay calm! Wine is here!’ you probably didn’t realise its home is sunny Selsey.

Andy Short, 43, took over the Selsey Off Licence in January, and decided to diversify the shop.

First of all he made sure his staff were clued up on the wines, then he invested in a wine-tasting machine for customers, and soon came the Winebulance.

“At first it was just a bit of fun, then we put it on Facebook and it went ballistic,” said Mr Short.

“Straightaway we had calls from Australia, South Africa and other countries asking if they could franchise it.”

He said the Winebulance, his van for home delivery in Selsey, had reached 200,000 people on Facebook – and Dawn French’s fan page shared a photo of the van, which got thousands of hits.

“Gone are the days of setting up an attractive shop, opening the doors and expecting people to come in,” said Mr Short. “You need a recognisable brand and home delivery if you want to survive on the high street.

“As a result, Winebulance was born!”

He said the Winebulance had made a huge difference to sales. With publicity all over the internet, and takeaway menus for the home-delivery service, the customer base has grown and grown.

“We are the fifth owner 
in its 110-year history, and knew that to make it a success in a very competitive market we had to diversify how we went to market,” he said.

The Winebulance delivers to Selsey residents – but he sticks strictly to the opening hours of the shop.

“We don’t want to be delivering vodka to people at 4am if they clearly don’t need any more,” he said.

“We want to be responsible and work within our licence for the shop.”

With the brand attracting attention internationally, Mr Short has copyrighted the brand – and a company in Tamworth, Staffordshire, and another in Majorca have paid to use the brand name, which he has agreed to.

“We recently decided to sell the Winebulance concept under licence so other independent off licences which wanted to offer home delivery could benefit from our creation,” said Mr Short.

He said he copyrighted the brand, as if it popped up all over the place and anyone was using it, it could be ‘detrimental’ to his brand.

“It is about brand protection and building the brand,” he said.

The brand is building so well, in fact, Mr Short has had t-shirts printed, and has already sent some to Australia and Canada.

But although he is enjoying the international publicity for the brand, it is very much a local project he wants locals to use and enjoy.

He said it does around five or six home deliveries a day to Selsey residents, and he wants to build the coverage up to the whole of the Manhood Peninsula. “After that, who knows?” he adds.

But despite putting energy into social media and publicity, there is a lot of work going into the off licence, too. Mr Short has a licence for customers to drink on the premises, so on a sunny day he can invite customers to sit on tables and chairs out the front to try a glass of wine.

With the wine-sampling machine they have the ‘try before you buy’ offer, which often attracts customers, and the staff are encouraged to sample the wines, so they can give customers advice.

As part of the Selsey Festival the Selsey Off Licence will hold a wine tasting evening from 7pm- 9pm on Wednesday, August 14, at the Town Hall.

“There will be more than 20 new and exciting wines to try including rubis chocolate made from tempranillo, winzer krems gruner veltner from Austria and the Italian Miopasso Primitivo,” said Mr Short.