Just wanted to give a quick bit of background on how the decision was reached, as this is something that a couple of people have mentioned on this topic.
Montreuil was closed after an 18-month review and consultation where a wide range of options were considered. Part of this included a survey of 400 members who had used Montreuil to get a representative sampling. I appreciate that members that weren’t included in this survey might feel they didn’t get a chance for their voice to be heard, but here’s an explanation from Society Chairman Sarah Evans on why we couldn’t consult the entire membership (and why that wouldn’t have been useful to the decision-making anyway):
As a mutual we often feel more like a ‘club’ where consultation and cabinet decisions are perhaps the norm. However, in a business the size of The Society, with a turnover of getting on for £100m, approximately 138,000 active members and another 100,000 or so members who do not currently order but remain as members and have a vote, such consultation is simply impractical. We could ask all the members who use the Montreuil showroom for their views but would get a distorted answer in favour of keeping it open. If we asked the membership as a whole it is likely that the majority of members would be unprepared for the price that they pay for a bottle of wine to cross subsidise the tiny proportion of members who do buy from Montreuil; the vast majority of whom in any event buy in France to avoid the UK duty. You will appreciate that neither provides a helpful or balanced basis on which to frame a business decision.
Only 2.6% of active members used Montreuil in the final year leading up to the decision to close it, and the significant increase in costs thanks to the new rental agreement we would have had to sign (and the risk of a worse exchange rate meaning even less members felt it worthwhile to visit Montreuil) the showroom would have made a very small return and it may have led to us needing to put the prices of wines up to pay for it. The whole membership subsidising activities appreciated by a minority isn’t in line with our principles regarding the services we offer.
As a fellow member and someone who has more than once travelled to Montreuil to collect wine, I completely understand the disappointment here. But it wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly, and members’ viewpoints were taken into account as much as possible, and this was the best outcome for the membership as a whole.
That’s all for now - hope this helps. I’ve got to go and celebrate my mum’s birthday now but I’ll check back later to see if I can help with anything else.