The rise and fall of Peter Dominic: The story of a wine business

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This Peter Dominic wine list from October 1973 might bring tears to the eyes of people of a certain age – and not just because of the (to modern eyes) exceptionally inexpensive prices. It is a tale of the wine trade over the last 80 years.

Over Christmas I found a copy of “Everybody’s Wine Guide” by Anthony Hogg, a director of Peter Dominic from 1959 to 1974 and a contemporary of David Peppercorn MW (former Peter Dominic wine buyer) and my former colleague Anthony Hanson MW, both of whom are name-checked in this 1986 book.

Peter Dominic was the brand name of Paul Dauthieu, a Scotsman of French heritage. Starting with a shop in Horsham in December 1939, the business grew to 10 branches in southern market towns by 1956. I believe that Paul Dauthieu’s descendants now own Ehrmanns.

In 1963 Peter Dominic was sold for £750k to International Distillers & Vintners, which at that time comprised Gilbeys, Justerini & Brooks, and the Hennessey agents Twiss & Brownings & Hallowes. By 1968, all of International Distillers & Vintners’ 354 off-licences were branded as Peter Dominic – “the best name we’ve got”, said the IDV Chairman.

Watney’s had a 25% stake in IDV and took complete control in 1972. Within a few months both companies found themselves part of Grand Metropolitan, which in 1997 merged with Guinness to form Diageo – now a 37% stakeholder in Moët Hennessy.

When Thresher took over Peter Dominic from Grand Metropolitan for £50m in 1991 the shops were rebranded under the Thresher name.

The Bottoms Up brand of shops, formerly owned by Peter Dominic, was retained. Peter Dominic was separated from Grand Met’s IDV group in 1989 to become a retail division.

Thresher was purchased by the Japanese private equity firm Nomura Holdings in October 2000 for £225m.

Terra Firma Capital Partners purchased it in April 2002 and allegedly sold it to Pension Insurance Corporation at a significant loss in June 2007.

Only two weeks after the purchase from Terra Firma Capital Partners the company was sold by Pension Insurance Corporation to Vision Capital. It was renamed as First Quench Retailing in 2008.

In October 2009 it was announced that First Quench Retailing had entered into administration, crushed by competition from supermarkets.

And that was that – a sad end to a once great wine company that started with a single shop in a Sussex town in 1939.

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8 Responses to The rise and fall of Peter Dominic: The story of a wine business

  1. Nigel FULLER 13 Bellevue St Fairlight 2094 Australia says:

    I spent a wonderful 1964 working at Dominics 2 Orange st, Haymarket, Manager Mr Roy Cronk, his deputy Mr Galloway,
    and my boss Mr Dom. O.Neill, a wonderful softspoken, delightful man.
    Also on staff were Ray Strowgger, Eddy Farmer,
    I returned to Australia in Dec 1964.
    I fondly remember my time with this wonderful firm,

  2. Craig Shaw says:

    Hi,
    I worked for Peter Dominic Cambridge in 1988 just before the re branding to Bottomsup. That shop was beautiful before they vandalised it with green shelves and tacky cheapness. I only worked there for a short time but I gained my love for wine and Whisky that I learned from an old school wine expert. Thanks for the history lesson and thanks for allowing me to pin point the year of change that I had forgotten

  3. Richard Henry Lamplough says:

    My grandfather, Paul Dauthieu, founded Peter Dominic. As you say, the first shop was in Horsham in 1939. My mum, Paula, spent some of her youth working for her dad in the shop and in May 1952 my dad, a young army captain, walked into the shop and within a month they were engaged! My dad died in 1999. These days, my mum has dementia and because of COVID we can’t see her at her care home… which is very sad. My aunt, her sister, Rosemary does not have dementia and is very on the ball. I printed off your article and sent it to her, and as I thought she might do – she returned it with all sorts of corrections! My uncle Peter, went to Spain and became a wine broker there. His full name is Peter Dominic Dauthieu. He has remained in the business, and his sons are in the business too, and their company is called Ehrmanns. – Kindest regards – Richard Lamplough

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