The sale of wine in the UK is highly regulated. In addition to the usual steps you need to follow when you start a business in the UK, you will also need to fulfil some additional requirements necessary to sell alcohol. That means having a license for your premises that gives permission to sell wine; you will also need a personal license for the manager of the shop demonstrating he or she is a responsible person.
The retail environment for wine sales in the UK is very competitive, with supermarkets often selling wine as a loss leader or taking small profit margins.
Source your wine supply. Take time to understand the wine business and decide how and where you will obtain your merchandise. You might buy it from wholesalers or importers in the UK, or you might buy it directly from the producers. You may make it yourself: English wine is improving in quality and popularity.
Making or sourcing your wine directly is harder and more time consuming but it is also potentially more profitable. It also offers you a chance to sell unique wine that might not be available elsewhere.
Establish an outlet. The most obvious option is to open a shop. Remember, in the UK a brick and mortar store selling alcohol requires a premises license from the local authority. New licenses must be approved by you local council licensing committee and it can take time to be processed To apply for a license, contact your local council.
Get your personal license. Not only must your premises be licensed under the terms of the 2003 Licensing Act, but so must you. To sell wine you must have a personal license authorising you to sell alcohol on the premises. This person is called the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS). Beware: if you sell alcohol when not properly licensed you could face a fine of £20,000 GBP (approx £18,200 GBP). To get a personal license you will need to prove that you are a responsible person, with good character and no criminal record. You can also employ someone with a DPS.
Establish additional sales channels. If you're selling high end or unusual wines, a website is essential as a sales channel. Lots of people look online for unique wines. Why not start a wine club? They are increasingly popular and there is no reason why you shouldn't start one locally, starting with family and friends and taking it from there.
When you are up and running, you need to get the word out that you are open for business. Keeping current and future customers aware of what you're doing and selling is essential. Marketing promotions, special deals and discounts are obvious ideas, but it pays to be inventive. How about a wine tasting evening? Don't neglect the internet and social media as useful marketing channels.
In some areas of the UK is is becoming more difficult to get a premises licence to sell wine.