Winewise: Smart spirits in Tel Aviv

“We buy Israeli wines directly from the local wineries, although between 50-60 percent of our sales are wines from outside of Israel.”

 Winwise Sarona Market branch (photo credit: Courtesy of Winewise LTD)
Winwise Sarona Market branch
(photo credit: Courtesy of Winewise LTD)

Amos Barzilai has been in the wine business for the best part of 20 years. His company, Winewise, focuses primarily on wine though it also sells other alcohol products. From the beginning of this part of his professional journey, Barzilai has relied on all manner of professional services, including Bank Hapoalim, which has offered him both expertise and advice.

“We established the company in 2003 to sell wines and spirits - like a liquor store. We have four wine stores, and we have two experiential sites where people can purchase wine ‘on the go’ to taste our wines. In addition, we have a designated facility for teaching about wine. Around 35 percent of our sales are from wines that we import ourselves, and this is part of the business with which Bank Hapoalim has been especially helpful,” Barzilai explains

Our two ‘on-the-go’ sites are in high foot traffic areas; Sarona Market and the Tel Aviv Port,” Barzilai reveals. “At the moment, all our stores and associated places of business are in Tel Aviv, but we will shortly be opening at a new location in Ganei Tikva. A customer can go to the booth, purchase a single-use cup of wine or beer at a reasonable price, although it’s obviously without wait staff. Once you’ve purchased your drink, you can then go on your way and continue enjoying other shops. 

Barzilai says that Winewise is in the process of expanding the business. “We are due to open our fifth store, which will be the first outside of Tel Aviv. This new store will not only sell wine but will also have a section where we will give workshops about wine. The new store will be located in Ganei Tikva and will open at the end of the first quarter or the beginning of the second quarter of 2022.

He said that he’s been tracking the neighborhood’s development for the last five years or so - and its location next to the new Kiryat Ono means that there are tens of thousands of newly built apartments, potentially creating the kind of foot traffic that will enable the location to take off and grow.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Winewise’s locations worked very well, including the “on-the-go” sites. “There were fewer places of entertainment available, and people were in their homes more, or they spent more time outside - when they could. Being able to drink wine while effectively being outside was an important aspect,” Barzilai notes.

Tomer Nativ, Head of Business Banking, (Credit: BANK HAPOALIM)Tomer Nativ, Head of Business Banking, (Credit: BANK HAPOALIM)

Another key aspect of the business activity is foreign trade. “It is not just the stores, but also our storage areas. Wine importing is a major component of our business and a significant aspect of its success.

“We buy Israeli wines directly from the local wineries, although between 50-60 percent of our sales are wines from outside of Israel,” he adds, so that is an important area the bank helps us with. They have been to all the parts of the business that can have an effect on our bottom line.”

Members of the bank’s international trade and e-commerce team frequently visit the business to see how things are going and if there is anything more they can do. Barzilai works with bankers at the Shaul Hamelech branch in Tel Aviv, where Tomer Nativ is the head of business banking. Nativ mainly works on aspects of international trade and e-commerce. “When we work with an importer, we want to adapt the banking products to the customer’s needs. Most often, importers need intermediate financing between the payment of the supplier of the goods and the receipt of the funds from the end customer. The product that can be tailored to the customer in such a case is an import financing framework. The level of that framework is determined in advance according to the financial data of the customer and their needs,” he explains.

“In such a situation, the customer has a pre-approved framework, where he can, at any stage, call for money when needed, even on the website and without the involvement of the banker in the branch. When the actual funds are received from the end customer, the bank’s customer can repay the loan, or alternatively, attach a payment within the overall repayment schedule. The final repayment of the loan is set for a predetermined date when the customer expects to receive income.”

“Another tool that helps importers is connecting to a trading room to make currency conversions conveniently and quickly. You can also make trades through the trading room to protect currency exchange rates, which can preserve financial assets in case of sharp fluctuations in the currency exchange rate at which the customer is due to pay the provider,” Nativ concludes.

“Thanks to the business and financial solutions we provided Winewise, together with a good mind for business and innovation on their part, they succeeded in expanding their inventory and ultimately growing the business.”

This article was made in cooperation with Bank Hapoalim.