Tanners Today - 180 years old!
Tanners is family-owned, family-run, resolutely independent and celebrated its 180th anniversary in 2022. It is run by James Tanner, Chairman and Managing Director, the fourth generation of the family to work in the company, who took over from his father, Richard Tanner.
The firm employs over 100 people with the majority split between its distinctive, black & white headquarters in Shrewsbury and its distribution depot in Welshpool. Approximately half Tanners’ sales are to quality-minded hotels and restaurants and half to private clients and corporate customers such as universities, colleges and companies - not only locally but countrywide too. Good traditional service is what Tanners is about, but ‘traditional’ in the best sense of the word. We find it easier to deliver this with a core of long-serving staff and we are lucky in this respect, Tanners currently has more than a dozen members of staff who have completed 30 years with the firm.
The careful selection of wines is of paramount importance at Tanners. James Tanner and Stephen Crosland have done the buying together now for many years and are helped in their endeavours to travel and taste as widely as possible by Simon Jones and Robert Boutflower. We devote a lot of time to seeing our suppliers either in Shrewsbury or abroad since the best producers have to be convinced that their wine will end up with customers who will appreciate it. Quantities available are often limited and in this respect, a firm the size of Tanners has a distinct advantage over bigger enterprises.
To ensure quality and continuity it is essential to talk to a grower in his or her own cellars or winery. No two years are the same and an indolent farmer can make a good wine in a year that has favourable weather. Useful producers make good wines in the difficult years. It is only by seeing a grower’s cellars and assessing his or her attitude during conversation that one can get a proper idea of what sort of wine will be produced on a continuing basis. It is also only by careful questioning that one can establish just how ‘organic’ a producer really is, finding out whether they are just paying lip service while continuing on with as many treatments as ever! Fortunately many of our suppliers are at the forefront of the organic and biodynamic movement.
We are sometimes asked how we can compete on price. The answer is severalfold. Firstly we are rigorous in going direct to the producer and cutting out layers of middlemen. In this vein we have always maintained that wine is an agricultural product and has no need of big cities. Secondly Tanners is large enough to ship wine from just about anywhere in the world, in complete container quantities if necessary. We save further costs by shipping to our own bonded warehouse at Welshpool in Mid-Wales. Thirdly Tanners is a member of a buying consortium through our part ownership of the Merchant Vintners Company. This 25-strong association of independent wine merchants was founded in 1965 and now has a combined annual turnover of over £400 million.
The Bunch is made up of the proprietors or managing directors of seven of Britain’s leading independent wine merchants comprising Tanners, Yapp Brothers, Adnams, Lea & Sandeman, Corney & Barrow, Private Cellar and Haynes, Hanson & Clark. Its Code of Practice governs the way in which we sell En Primeur wines and look after customer reserves.