Tag Archives: Posten

Finding New Ways

As regular readers of Vinfrihet will know, the story of how wine is delivered to our members is worthy of a Chinese Communist era soap opera: Capitalist Roadsters vs Little Redbook carrying Party Members. The first two scenes of the drama involved the bullies at KF (Konsum, Coop, Mataffaren) breaking their contract to deliver our wine and then Posten dismissing our business as too small to bother with. I am glad the audience is still watching because just as you hope for in any good movie, the good guys are making a come back!

Today we announced a national contract with Bring Express whose slogan, Finding New Ways, could easily be the sub text for our wine club business. From March 26 all orders placed with our wine clubs will be home delivered – EVERYWHERE IN SWEDEN! Bring’s impressive service will give our wine club members the best home delivery service in the country for the same low price we currentlyoffer of only 190kr a case of wine (150kr for the second and all subsequent cases of wine shipped free so the maximum anyone pays is 340kr for delivery). If you live in the archipelago outside of Stockholm or Göteborg there is an additional fee.

Every customer ordering on our wine club sites has their social security number verified to check that they are over 20 and Bring Express’ handsomely dressed in green drivers check the ID of all people receiving the wine and have them sign for it. This is the best and only 100% age checking for alcohol sales in Sweden. Bring will also call up every customer to book a delivery time up to 21:00 and call 30 minutes before arrival so most members will be able to leave for home when they get the call and the smart green van arrives with the much awaited package.

That is what we call service!

 The whole experience of negotiating with Bring Express and the implementation of the logistics when compared to our 12 month ordeal with Posten is like the difference between Obama and Mao. One gives you hope for the future the other makes you regret the past!

While our members enjoy the benefits of Bring’s national service and our great wine, we await the eventual criticism from Systembolaget (bla bla bla against community health…) and the anti alcohol lobby (bla bla bla against community health….) who were the shadow puppet masters in the first two scenes of this Chinese soap opera. As long as Systembolaget sells spirits, beer and 60% of its wine sold is bag in box products with use by dates 11 months from filling, people in glass pagodas should not throw stones!

Thank you Tobias, Jonas, Stefan, Charlotte and the whole Bring team. We know you will have the courage to stand up to the puppet masters and live up to fulfilling your slogan to the benefit of Swedish consumers of quality wine!

Cheers to Bring!

Mark

Ripples from the sea change

A powerful friend in Stockholm quietly let me in on a secret:  there are 20 people who make all the big decisions in Sweden and pull all the puppet strings. A various stages of our business we have felt the slap of the puppet’s hand and the kick of its wooden leg in the hope of stopping wine lovers from having legal access to quality wine. But for every cold wooden kick and slap we get 1000 warm handshakes and hugs from our growing army of members that is now well over 45.000 strong. We don’t feel so lonely in our battle against the puppets of KF and Posten.

This has already been an eventful month (besides it being the birth month of our children).

  1. We completely stopped selling via Systembolaget and closed our Stockholm warehouse: now we control the whole service experience
  2. We re-launched Malmö Aviation Wine Club www.malmoaviationwineclub.se with direct delivery to an overwhelming response from this great airline’s frequent flyer members. Well done Mia-Li, you have done a great job launching this new site.
  3. Australian Wine Club continues to grow like our glasshouse tomato bushes in the summer. March will be our best sales month ever thanks to all our members’ support.
  4. Vinfynda will soon be resurected from the dead and incorporated in Australian Wine Club where great value discounted wine can be found with home delivery.
  5. I met some incredibly intelligent and articulate people who understand and support what we are doing. The fact that organisations like Timbro and magazines like Neo exist in Sweden gives us hope that free markets and entrepreneurs have a future here.
  6. The phones of our wine advisors, under the management of the wonderfully patient and encouraging Maria, are ringing hot and members are really appreciating the service and new way to order wine. I was amused to see that Systembolaget has taken expensive full page newspaper advertisements to let us know that they have copied our wine advisor idea. But we don’t make you feel guilty about buying wine when you call us! When will the government stop monopolies from advertising to support their own monopoly – surely this is a political matter.
  7. The spring range of wines has just been finalised and includes our first South American wines (bring on the Argentinian Malbec), great value Chianti and Rioja and more Keith Tulloch wines. We shopped up the entire remaining supply of the all-time-member’s favourite wines, Fire Block Shiraz and Grenach. That, along with some very exciting new wines from New Zealand and Australia will make the spring sunny regardless of the weather!
  8. James and Jimmy are soon off to Pro Wein, the huge international wine fair in Germany, where we hope to find more pearls for the summer and autumn. Any requests?
  9. To all our industry colleagues who have recently lost their jobs due to Systembolaget’s refusal to increase wine prices due to the severe slump in the € to the SEK, we hope you get back on your feet soon. Can someone explain to me why a monopoly that is supposed to discourage alcohol consumption insists on making its suppliers subsidise alcohol consumers? If it were truly following its remit it would see this as an opportunity to increase prices and reduce sales. However, when all other products purchased from Europe and the US are rising in price, we can thank the monopoly for keeping prices artificially low at the cost of lost jobs in the alcohol importing industry. I suggest that SORAD conduct a study to calculate how many extra sick days will be taken due to the artificially low price of alcohol. The Russian government subsidises vodka, the Swedish State subsidises all alcohol!
  10. Watch out for next week’s news, it is sure to bring a smile to your face!

Cheers everyone

Mark

Financial Times takes up KF Breach of contract affair

See above: Open Letter to KF Directors

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/47b123fa-fc94-11dd-aed8-000077b07658.html

FT Germany: http://www.ftd.de/karriere_management/business_english/:Business-English-Vintner-fails-to-milk-Sweden-s-sacred-cow/498156.html

Vintner fails to milk Sweden’s sacred cow
By David Ibison

Financial Times: Published: February 17 2009 02:00 |

Mark Majzner is a laid-back 42-year-old Australian who until now barely had a political bone in his body. But this all changed after he signed a deal that allowed his modest company to compete with one of Sweden’s largest and most entrenched state-owned monopolies, Systembolaget.

The government-owned alcohol retailer has a presence on every high street and is known by the nickname “The System”. Swedes cannot buy alcohol from any other retailer and most of its stores keep bottles behind locked glass doors, bringing an element of pre-1989 eastern Europe to Sweden’s otherwise 21st century shopping streets.

Sweden joined the European Union in 1995 and EU regulations state there must be free movement of goods and services. The country’s state monopolies – which cover areas ranging from medicine to gambling – therefore do not sit prettily with the EU and in judgments the European Court of Justice has called on Sweden to open the door to competition.

An ECJ ruling allowing Systembolaget to keep its retail monopoly but permitting Swedes to buy alcohol online prompted Mr Majzner to set up his company, Antipodes Premium Wines. Registered in Malta, it buys pricier wine from around the world, warehouses it in Germany, pays Swedish taxes on behalf of customers and delivers the wine to their door. It has grown rapidly and has 27,000 members.

The Financial Times originally met Mr Majzner last summer and in an article argued that his business indicated that “after decades of state control, ‘The System’ is starting to crack”. But according to Mr Majzner, subsequent events make that claim appear optimistic. Mr Majzner signed a deal with the Swedish Co-operative Union (KF), which runs a nationwide chain of food stores, that allowed its 3m members to buy wine from Mr Majzner’s company using a KF website. Though the resulting sales volumes were expected to be tiny, the move meant that for the first time there would be a rival to Systembolaget on the Swedish high street.

But three days before the new service was due to go live, Mr Majzner was summoned to a meeting with a senior KF executive and told the deal was off even though the two companies had been working for months on the launch.

Posten, the state-owned Swedish postal service, also suddenly refused to deliver his wine, in spite of having done so happily for six months.

Armed with his contract, Mr Majzner considered suing and was told by his lawyers he had a watertight case. But then his law firm suffered a last-minute change of mind and said it could no longer represent him.

KF says the deal was terminated because it did not want to undermine Sweden’s policy of responsible drinking. A Systembolaget spokesman said it was surprised to see KF countering the country’s sensible drinking policy.

Posten said it decided not to deliver his wine, as it could not verify the age of the person collecting it – even though Posten is based in small local shops that ask for ID when cigarettes are sold and could do the same for wine.

Mr Majzner argues that he simply wants to use European competition law to offer Swedes premium wines, wines rarely drunk by alcohol abusers. He sees a more political explanation for the blow. He claims his joint venture with KF and Posten represented a competitive threat to Systembolaget and thus broke an unspoken bond that binds Sweden’s most powerful leftwing organisations.

Maria Rankka, the head of Timbro, a right-leaning Swedish think-tank, has little doubt this is what happened. “There are very strong power structures in place, as we can see in this case,” she said.

It is easy to forget the depth and breadth of Sweden’s leftwing heritage, but the fact remains that it has been ruled for most of the past 70 years by the Social Democrats, who set up most of the state-run monopolies. The country’s right-leaning government is a rare exception to the rule.

KF, for example, is “the union of the country’s 51 consumer co-operative societies” and traces its roots to Sweden’s folkrörelsen , or popular movement, which is regarded as the cornerstone of Swedish social democracy.

Moreover, many of its 3m members are also members of LO, the main labour union, which uses its fees to finance the Social Democrats.

Given these links, Mr Majzner believes it was impossible for KF to go into competition with a state-run monopoly, although oddly KF only seems to have realised this only after newspaper articles started pointing it out.

Mr Majznersays Sweden is a transparent and business-friendly country, butevery once in a while its socialist heritage can loom up out of the gloom and fight back. As a newspaper editorial on the whole affair asked: “There is a cost in challenging the most sacred cow of Social Democracy. But it can’t be impossible, can it?”
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

Skriv till KF!

Är du för valmöjlighet och god affärsetik? Läs vårt öppna brev till KFs direktörer här. Om du vill säga ditt om att upprätthålla svensk affärsetik och valfrihet, kopiera och klistra gärna följande text och skicka till Nina Jarlbäck, ordförande i Ktf Svea: nina.jarlback@kf.se.

Idag läste jag i Financial Times hur KF har kört över småföretaget Antipodes Premium Wines. En tankeväckande artikel. Handlingar som denna tjänar inte till att stärka Sveriges rykte utomlands. Jag hoppas verkligen att denna fråga om kontraktsbrott kan lösas snarast på ett sätt som gynnar båda inblandade parter.

Lägg gärna till mig i kopia-fältet på mejlet! Min e-postadress är mark@australianwineclub.se.

Playing favourites.

Sorry Bosse Zetterqvist, your hollow comments have been exposed.

Posten delivers wine to Systembolaget’s 510 collection points, which are able to check if the recipient is over 20 and sober, but Posten can not do this through their own collection points (many of which are the same place). Bo, can you let us know how many collection points you share with Systembolaget? 

Below is from Systembolaget’s own website about their Ombud (collection point) service.  Bo Zetterqvist and Lars. G. Nordstrom work for a company  owned by all Swedes and in the service of all of us and should explain why they will only deliver alcohol sold by Systembolaget and not other companies operating legally in Sweden.  

Leveranser
Din beställning levereras alltid så snabbt som möjligt. Efter sista beställningstid hos ditt ombud plockar vi ihop varorna. Därefter levererar Posten dem till ombudet. 

Utlämning och ålderskontroll
Utlämning av beställda varor sker under samma tider som Systembolagets öppettider (öppettiderna regleras av riksdagen). Därför sker ingen utlämning på söndagar eller helgdagar.
Försäljningsreglerna är desamma som på Systembolaget, det vill säga man måste vara minst 20 år för att handla, ombuden lämnar inte ut till berusade eller när man misstänker langning.

If we are to believe Bosse’s explanation (see posting below) we also look forward to the big jolly guy in red and white delivering our packages this Christmas, not Posten!If you have a choice how to send packages this festive season and like quality wine, try and use a company that supports free choice.

Cheers!

Mark

Why doesn’t DHL or Schenker jump at this lucrative new market and grow at the expense of Posten? 

Julmiddagar

This is a busy time of year as we meet our members at the annual Christmas dinners held in our wonderful office-restaurant. So not much time spare to write the blog but it is great to share our wines and food with you.

Many thanks to the many members who wrote to Posten to ask them to handle the logistics for your wine orders. Here is the response one member got:

Tack för ditt mejl.

Som du känner till finns det en åldersgräns för inköp av alkohol. Den omfattar även utlämning av alkohol. För att vi ska kunna garantera att leveranserna sker enligt lag krävs omfattande förändringar i de tekniska verktyg som vi och våra ombud använder. Det innebär betydande investeringar från vår sida.

Detta kombinerat med att de förpackningar som krävs för flytande vätskor är dyra, gör att vi ser en begränsad potential för tjänsten. Vi har därför beslutat oss för att inte göra de förändringar som krävs för utlämning av alkohol. Beslutet är med andra ord fattat på affärsmässiga grunder.

Med vänliga hälsningar

Bo Zetterqvist

Chef, Distanshandel

Posten Logistik AB

Bo.Zetterqvist@posten.se

Posten has already approved the packaging we are using and it is not their business what it costs anyway. The technology to check age should be no different than that required to check for collection of other restricted products like medicines etc. Perhaps Posten cares less about children collecting prescription drugs than the risk of them collecting a 15kg box of quality wine?

Write to Bosse if you have any more comments.

They have no will to handle wine because their political masters have told them not to.

I hope Bosse read this article: http://www.aftonbladet.se/matvin/article3915227.ab in Sweden’s best selling newspaper. Clearly customers want choice where to buy their wine!

cheers!

Mark

Open Letter to Swedish Post’s CEO

Send some Xmas cheer to Lars

 

To: lars.g.nordstrom@posten.se

 

Hej Lars

I read this article in SVD this morning http://www.svd.se/naringsliv/nyheter/artikel_2084139.svd that you are going to give up your salary as CEO of Posten, some 5.4 million SEK. Now I understand why you have not answered my emails requesting Posten to deliver wine to our 26,000 wine club members in Sweden. You must be very busy with your financial advisors trying to work out how you will live off your pension and board directorship fees of 6,5 million SEK a year. I hope this sudden change to your personal financial circumstances will not cause you too much hardship.  If you are short of time to go down to the store to buy wine for you and the staff christmas part you know where to find it – www.australianwineclub.se.  We will deliver it to your office for free if you buy enough.

It really is not fair that you should have to work for no salary, they should at least give you the same salary as your hardworking delivery people. It goes against the capitalist principles that be both believe in and have made you a wealthy guy. Maybe this is not the time to be turning away legal business. I am told by our current logistics partners that their delivery personnel really enjoy delivering wine “everyone is so happy to receive their package,” they say.

So Lars, this season why not get Posten to spread some Christmas cheer around Sweden. Deliver the thousands of boxes of quality wine to our members and give a little boost to your revenues, make your delivery personnel happy by working with a product that people are really glad to receive and of course spread some happiness around the country. Posten already delivers the ingredients for making moonshine so why not wine – or maybe that will be your drink of choice this winter in these hard financial times.

Merry Christmas

Mark Majzner

PS: Please spread the AWC motto to your 30.000 employees: If you drink and drive you’re a bloody idiot.

————————————————————————————-

Hi Vinfrihet readers,

If you would like to collect your wine orders from Posten’s 1600 collection points please let Lars know, lars.g.nordstrom@posten.se and maybe if enough of you write to Lars he will stand up to the political forces that are holding him back from making this sound business decision.

Cheers

Mark

Tasmanian Island

Greetings from Down Under. I don’t watch TV in Sweden but a friend told me to tune into the Australia Post television advertisements here for its services that show a case of wine being collected from a winery and delivered to the eager customer’s home. Banks, insurance companies, newspapers, credit cards all offer an amazing selection of wine and beer direct to their customers. Wine consumers are so well informed and spoilt for choice, not only which wine to buy but also from where and how will they order it. If Aussies are spoilt, are we deprived back in Sweden?

My email to Posten’s CEO last month has resulted in an eerie silence. Perhaps he is visiting Australia researching Australia Post’s sophisticated age-checking system.

I digressed from my main purpose of this posting. As I have been whizzing around Australia visiting wineries there are many things to write about.

I flew down to Tasmania (that not too litle island south of Australia that is a State of Australia) to visit Tamar Ridge, one of the largest producers on the Apple Isle. Will Adkins met me at Launceston Airport and drove to an amazing vineyard overlooking the valley that Launceston sits in and at which the other end Tamar Ridge and their winery lies.

This new 80ha winery of sauvignon blanc, riesling and pinot noir was meticulously planted and maintained. While the rest of Australia is in severe draught, lushious Tasmania is not suffering as badly and the vines will need only limited irrigation this year. While the warmer parts of the mainland start harvesting the grapes late December and January, Tamar Ridge starts in late March through to end April and the long growing season with cool nights is creating some elegant crisp wines that are finally finding their place on the world wine map.

I was pleased to hear of the great success they are having domestically (I saw their wines in many stores and winelists) but also in the highly competitive UK market where they have an impressive list of restaurants now serving their wines as well as some retail customers to be proud of.

The Tamar Ridge winery and vineyards are a good 45 minutes drive down the valley and lie adjacent to the river near Devil’s Corner, the name of their second label that is a best selling wine at Australian Wine Club. Dr. Richard Smart, one of the world’s leading viticulturalists, has a PHD team at the winery making small run ferments of specially planted and grown grapes including various Pinot Noir, Riesling and Albharino strains. Their commitment to creating high quality wines that really reflect the varied terroir in this region is quite outstanding. This is the first winery I have visited with its own resident team of scientists tinkering away to find the perfect combination of grapes, soil, yeasts and winemaking techniques. CEO and renowned winemaker Andrew Pirie leads the winemaking effort and his 30 years experience making wine in Tassie has had a marked influence on the consistent high quality and clear style of the wines.

I tasted throug the new range of wines with Will and wine maker Tom Raveach and the 2008 vintage is superb. Their commitment to their cool climate style of wine with a distinct Tasmanian influence is creating some excellent products that are of similar restrained style to the NZ wines which share a similar climate but without the over-powering fruti that Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir can exhibit. The Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir is a big improvement on last year’s sold out vintage. The wine has more typical Pinot Noir characteristics but with balance acidity, fruit and savouriness. The new Pinot Gris was crisp, nutty and dry which will be well received in wine orders we ship next summer as will the Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.

It was hard to find fault in any of their wines and while not all of them will find their way into our selection (some are not in the style of wine we know our members enjoy) a good number will be.

Nex stop is Victoria, to visit Sandro a Kooyong and Port Phillip Estate down on the Mornington Peninsula, 75 minutes south of Melbourne…..until then….

Cheers mate! Mark