About Us

Ratcliffe & Brown is a well established, wine importer and distributor who specialises in the travel and duty free sectors.

Ratcliffe & Brown Wines and Spirits Ltd

are wine shippers who specialise in working with the travel sector. Formed in January 2000 by two partners with a wealth of wine trade and packaging experience behind them, their desire was to turn the traditional wine trade on its head and offer customers great tasting wines in packaging suitable for travel whilst delivering a great service. After building their portfolio of traditional premium wines, the focus turned to entry level wines. What they found, certainly in the airline and rail sectors was very discouraging. Poor quality liquids being sold in heavy glass bottles, very often past their best. With the arrival of the low cost models pioneered by Easyjet where passengers had to pay if they wanted a drink on their journey it became very apparent that the airlines had a duty to offer the best quality they could afford. Armed with the philosophy that the wines they offered should be the best available within budget and that ancillary revenue was the new buzz word, they went about sourcing wines that would be enjoyed by a wide variety of people and enjoyed to the extent of wanting to buy another bottle.

As the drive was on to save weight those wines had to be packaged in PET bottles. PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is very well known in the food packaging business but has only been used for wine for the last fifteen years. Whilst the impact of PET on the taste of wine was zero, the shelf life left a lot to be desired. Working with their suppliers, R&B were the first in the UK to offer the new multi-layer technology PET bottles that double and in some cases triple shelf life, to the same levels offered by glass bottles. So now it was possible to offer super fresh, easy drinking wines in lightweight bottles that had the same shelf life as traditional glass. Combining great tasting wines at reasonable prices in sensible packaging with a can do attitude soon became attractive to other areas in the travel business and railways soon joined airlines in the R&B customer portfolio. Having the ability to bottle unusual sizes such as 37.5cl and 50cl without saddling the customer with massive stock commitments became an instant hit. With onerous new waste packaging regulations coming into force, major operators are looking at becoming glass free over the next two years. Virgin Trains are currently pioneering the use of one litre multi layer PET bottles for complimentary pouring and East Coast Trains have made a commitment to eradicate glass wine bottles by the end of 2013.

Planes, trains, what next ?

With a unique line up of traditional old world, new world and emerging world wines to choose from in pretty much any format according to customer demand, the marine side of travel catering/travel retail seems the logical next step. Whilst weight might not be the primary concern it is still important but not as important as safety. On deck, what could be worse than broken glass ? The legal bill from whoever steps on it. Wines in 187ml quarter bottles, 75cl regular bottles or even 1 litre bottles all in multi layer PET will prevent the danger that broken bottles can afford. Ferry and Cruise lines pride themselves on the quality of food that they offer on board. It is a hugely important source of revenue and can make or break a passenger’s experience on-board.

Having the right wines on board to complement the menus is very important and equally important is having a reliable supplier who won’t let you down mid season. Having to tell a passenger that the wine they chose to go with their meal is out of stock never pleases anyone. R&B have built their business on service and the ability to deliver even against the tightest deadlines thanks to a logistics network that spans the UK and Europe, the near East, Middle East and Far East.

For a fresh approach to wine supply call Andrew Brown on +44 208 294 0721