In the first of a new series in which we ask key figures across the premium on-trade to look back on their week, we talk to Andrew Maidment, the inspiring European and Asian head of Wines of Argentina, to give an insight in to what goes through his average in and out box
Why no week is the same for globetrotting Andrew Maidment
What is your average week like?
In seven years I can honestly say I haven’t had what I’d call one average day or week. That’s good right!? My team run the European and Asian markets, so it’s a lot of the world to cover with only a few of us, so it keeps us on our toes.
My time is either spent working from a home office, or travelling and the level of each fluctuates depending on the time of the year.
In the past three months we’ve run activities in the UK, Ireland, Germany, China, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and Hong Kong. All of these have required travelling of course, but the majority of the work is prior preparation before the activation. Making sure we are doing the right things that will be of most value to the wineries, selecting the best local partners, if we don’t have a team in that country, and then working with both those in-market as well as our team in Argentina to ensure we achieve our objectives.
Given the geographical spread, the one issue is TIME ZONES. I’ll typically start the day with a call to Sherry my team member in China (at 9am) and finish the day working with our Mendoza team (at 10pm), so it’s a long one.
It is categorically not boring, ever.
High points of your last week
The activities we ran last Tuesday in Vietnam and last Thursday in Taiwan were great. We too 18 wineries (14 looking for an importer) to Vietnam and 24 to Taiwan (12 looking for an importer). Time will tell if people get the business they are after, but the right people came, the atmosphere was positive and feedback has been excellent.
Low points of your last week
I also got the flu, so travelling and attending the events myself hasn’t been the best…
What do you wish you could have done but couldn’t because of work?
Coldplay played in Nice whilst i’ve been away on this trip. Gutted!
If you could be in charge of all things drinks in the UK what would you do?
Give ever increasing shelf space to Argentina. Buyers, your customers love it, go on!
What are your favourite drinks at the moment.
If I said anything other than beer people I know will say I’m lying. But, I hate to say, not a fancy craft beer – a pint of something like clean, crisp and refreshing like Bitburger or Pilsner Urquel. German’s and Czech’s reading this will say that for them that’s the equivalent of Fosters, and they are probably right, but I’m a man of simple tastes.
So how do you see beer trends?
A backlash against too many same-same over the t(h)op craft beers that are impossible to drink more than one pint of. A resurgence of high quality, clean and simple Pilsner style largers.
What are the most exciting spirit trends?
Honestly, I never ever drink spirits so I am not particularly qualified to answer this. But please no more new gins. They’re all excellent but enough is enough!
The most exciting wine trends to get on board with.
Vivino. I honestly believe they will be the biggest thing – not app – the wine trade has seen. Just think of the level of data, the fact you can scan and buy any wine, anywhere, for delivery at home in any quantity. Can there be a more powerful tool for BOTH the end consumer AND the wine trade than that? If I were an independent merchant I’d be listing myself as a retailer with Vivino ASAP – they are going to be your easiest route out of solely local area sales.
What’s the best thing about being in the drinks industry?
Honestly, the people you get to work with. It sounds like a cliche for people in our industry to say that, but try working in consulting and saying the same thing!
Things that could be improved in the drinks industry (we must do better).
My answer is especially focused on the wine sector, because I think spirits and beers do this better.
Put ourselves into the shoes of the people who are going to be consuming our products a little more often and don’t be afraid to allow that to shape our actions, activities, marketing, packaging, product development etc.
Lighten up and have fun – that’s what the people who are buying our products are hoping to do and if we can’t lead them that way and enthuse and excite them then we’re doing ourselves a great disservice.
Back to the day job. How would you say Argentina is performing overall and in the UK on-trade specifically?
Argentina is performing fantastically well in the UK at the moment and has been for the past few years. In fact, we’ve experience double digit growth to the UK for the past 12 quarters. Our sales in the first quarter of 2016 were 41% up on 2015 which in turn were 31% up on 2014. The UK is now Argentina’s 2nd market after the USA.
One distinction between us and some of our competitors is that Argentina doesn’t have many huge companies exporting to the UK solely targeting the major retail sector. In fact, the majority of of our wineries could be classed as small or medium sized. In the past this has had its downsides. A lack of major shelf space meant a longer road to mass consumer awareness.
However, ultimately it has been a blessing in disguise as Argentina’s brand image has instead been built in the on-trade and independent off-trade sectors and this has proved great for consistent growth at the price points our wineries need.
Where do you see yourself in the on-trade?
Drinkers today aren’t expecting Argentina to be the cheapest wine on the list or the shelves and we’ve found that especially over the past few years more and more have gravitated to Argentine Malbec as the safe ‘go-to’ choice in the mid-rage of a list.
Five years ago it was our goal to get one Argentine wine on every wine list in the country. This is much closer to being the case now and the next challenge it to make that three, four or five wines.
I recently went to a Japanese restaurant in Miami (not your typical Argentine specialist) and they had new fewer than 10 Malbec’s on their list, with very specific descriptions on their differences. This is the next stage for us in the UK. To work with the on-trade (and independents) in order to show consumers the diversity we have to offer (both within our flagship grape as well as other other varieties) and encourage them to explore.
Any styles of wine or regions you think on-trade buyers should be looking to focus on for quality and value?
There’s a huge amount of research going into new regions, sub regions and individual sites in Argentina at the moment – too much to list and every time I visit I realise I’m completely out of date! If there’s a trend it’s very much towards fresh and elegant styles, far less ‘big’ than they might have been 10 years ago. I’d recommend buyers to re-look at all regions because they will find this tendency everywhere.
Which price points are working best for Argentina in the on-trade?
This depends a little bit on the type of restaurant, but on the whole our sweet spot is the ‘mid range’ from £20-£35. At this level Argentine wine delivers awesome value for money. However, speak to people like Gaucho and M Restaurants and you’ll find that they have no problem at all selling wines at £60/70+. It all depends on the environment, the knowledge of the sales team and getting the message right.
What are you reading (if you have time)…both trade wise and personal wise?
Trade wise, The Buyer (Ed…thanks chief). If I have any more time after that it’s a mixture of car websites and high quality news on DailyMail.com.
Favourite place for an after work drink and what are you drinking.
It’s a beer (as above) and writing this from a hotel in Hong Kong the absolute best place would be AT HOME.
Favourite place for dinner and what are you eating?
The location is the same as above and the provider…Deliveroo. As much because I like eating lots of international foods as because I admire the system and the fact they’ve grown from nothing in 2013 to be the major takeaway provider in almost every city around the world I’ve been to during this trip.
Like Uber, I can log in, pay with the same card I always pay with no matter where I am (so no faffing with local currencies), track the delivery and sit back and relax. It wasn’t a ‘new’ service as there were already food delivery sites, but they’ve just done it right. Brilliant.
What you been watching? Any films?
On the plane over here I watched Deadpool and loved it.
Anything else to say!?
I’m sorry Liverpool lost the Europa Cup.
Daftest/funniest recent drinks related story
Not to repeat on here.
If you would like to share your week with The Buyer then please email firstname.lastname@example.org.