Sara Saunby, owner of Salut Wines, a wine bar and shop based in Manchester features in our short video to celebrate its digital achievements during lockdown. As she starts to welcome customers back outside, along with other bars in England, she reflects on how her business has thrived online.This video is part of Liberty Global’s ‘Powering the UK’s Vital Connections’ campaign, which is showing how digital connectivity is providing a lifeline for businesses and communities.

Salut Wines is based in the centre of one of Manchester’s business districts. When the pandemic first imposed restrictions in March 2020, footfall in the city centre virtually disappeared overnight and they were forced to close. The wine bar opened in August 2014 and up until the pandemic had focused on the in-store customer experience above their online presence.

Owner Sara reached out to Virgin Media and they provided a dedicated Voom business broadband service, offering speeds of up to 350Mbps. These ultrafast and reliable services have helped thousands of small business owners like Sara to survive during lockdown with lightning-fast connections that enable them to keep in touch with their customers.

Like many businesses, Salut Wines was forced to adapt quickly, so Sara and her team started by setting up an online shop. But what they really wanted to do was bring the wine bar experience online, so they soon started offering virtual wine tastings.

The online tastings have proved extremely popular with up to 40 people joining sessions hosted from Salut’s Manchester premises. This has opened up new audiences – friends, families and corporate customers – who are now coming together remotely from across the UK for the first time, to enjoy the lively, informal and interactive wine tasting experiences that Salut are known for.
Sara and her team plan to continue running virtual tastings after reopening, having realised the potential of technology to expand their customer base and bring together nationwide teams for immersive wine tasting events.

Sara Saunby, owner of Salut Wines, said, “The pandemic has put a big focus on how reliant we are on broadband – it’s been an absolute lifeline. If we didn’t have a reliable broadband connection, online wine tastings would be a disaster. With Virgin Media we have brilliant connectivity – we simply wouldn’t have been able to keep the business going without it. I am now confident our business can really start motoring again.”

Gregg Pearce, Director of SOHO at Virgin Media, said: “Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and we’re enormously proud to have helped thousands of business owners like Sara survive and thrive during the pandemic. As lockdown restrictions start to lift for some businesses, we’re committed to helping our customers bounce back with disruption-free connectivity they can depend on.”