Tanners Today - 175 years old!
Tanners is a family owned, family run, resolutely independent and celebrated its 175 anniversary last year! It is run by James Tanner chairman, who is 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 Wales. 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 about a dozen members of staff who will 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, Adrian Patterson 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 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 growers 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 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 several fold. Firstly we are rigorous in going direct to the producer and cutting our 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 22-strong association of independent wine merchants was found 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 six of Britain’s leading independent wine merchants. Its Code of Practice governs the way in which we sell Lying Abroad wines and look after customer reserves. Other Bunch members are: Adnams, Berry Bros & Rudd, Yapp Bros, Corney & Barrow and Lea & Sandeman.