Giertz Vinimport, The only way is up

Giertz Vinimport was founded in 1982 by teachers, and wine enthusiasts, Martin and Sara Giertz. Since then, the company has witnessed the demise of Sweden’s import monopoly Vin & Sprit, but not its distribution monopoly, and it has now risen through the ranks to become the leading supplier of wine to Systembolaget.

This position has earned it a 10.4% share of Systembolaget’s wine sales, equating to 22.7 million litres in 2019 and giving it a birds-eye view of trends in the Swedish market. Sweden is renowned for its pledge to the environment, which has translated to a staggering 55% or so market share for boxed wines – rising to 60% in March and April this year due to the Covid-19 crisis. Organic wines have also been a major beneficiary of this focus, now accounting for 20% of the market and rising. But one trend that seems counter-intuitive considering the current economic climate is premiumisation. Whilst analysts in many other wine markets believe that the crisis will sound the death knell for what was considered a market mainstay, Emil Sallnäs, owner and president of Giertz Vinimport, disagrees in the case of Sweden. “I think premiumisation will last because it has a lot to do with people showing a genuine interest in wine. They are interested in tastings and wine has become an integral part of their social life”. For entertainment purposes, Swedish consumers are willing to splurge on a decent bottle of wine, though the sweet spot in retail remains reasonable – considering the 30% tax mark-up – at around 100 krona (approximately 10 euros). They also look to accolades to guide their choice of wine: “Consumers may not necessarily be familiar with all the names behind the accolades, but if we can display a medal on the packaging it is usually highly appreciated”, says Fredrik Ålander, the company’s director, who also points to the sustained popularity of French and Old World wines in general, as consumers revert to more traditional market staples.