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Victoria opens its first drinks superstore

Victoria Wine, the off-licence chain owned by Allied Domecq, is launching its first drinks superstore to rival the supermarkets for a share of Britain's pounds 7bn take-home drinks business. Martha's Vineyard, a 5,000 sq ft warehouse based in New Barnet in Hertforshire, opens next Saturday.

Allied Domecq plans to open a chain of superstores in an attempt stop the trend of drinkers buying booze in Tesco or Sainsbury. It is already searching for more UK sites for the Martha's concept and hopes to open three more stores next year.

Michael Hammond, managing director of Victoria Wine, said: "We are targeting people who do not already use our shops, who may currently buy their drinks at supermarkets. Martha's Vineyard will give them ... easy parking, massive choice, knowledgeable staff and very keen prices."

The store, which has been sited in New Barnet because it has "an above- average proliferation of known wine drinkers", will be designed like a supermarket, with self-selection in wide aisles and shopping trolleys to encourage bulk purchases.

There will also be opportunities to taste the wine on offer. Customers will be able to choose from some 650 wines and will get a 10 per cent discount on large purchases.

Analysts said the news would put supermarkets' already thin margins under further pressure.The move will dampen speculation that Allied is looking to sell Victoria Wine.