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    Top importers: what to expect at London’s VIN French wine tasting

    With the Six Nations rugby kicking off this weekend it is good timing to welcome the French wine community to London on February 1 with the return of Business France’s VIN tasting and the chance for UK wine buyers, merchants, importers and sommeliers to meet and taste wines from across 10 regions of France, featuring over 40 producers and covering 45 plus AOCs. To help set the scene we talk to the four UK importers who are also taking part in the event about what they hope VIN can achieve and why they are taking part.  

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    Opportunities and challenges in 2024 by Lanchester’s Lesley Cook

    From shortages of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, to the impact of a global pandemic and the war in Ukraine on dry goods, recent years have been nothing if not challenging for wine buyers. In 2023, the problems have been closer to home, with the first instalment of a duty shake up adding to prices and the bureaucratic burden, while the cost of living crisis potentially threatens disposable income. Thankfully, for Lesley Cook, buying director at Lanchester Wines, there has also been cause for celebration, with Lanchester Group’s perpetual focus on sustainability being recognised with a trio of coveted awards, as she explains to David Kermode, in this end of year report.

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    How Corney & Barrow’s logistics have to be as good as its wines  

    A premium wine importer can have the best wine list in the land, with quality and value from all major wine producing countries, but that all fades into insignificance if its supply chain and logistics service is not equally as good – if not better. Now it’s pretty fair to say Corney & Barrow is widely respected for getting its wine range right, here associate director, Mark Baskett, explains how the business gets the delivery side of the company right in his role as supply chain manager – in charge of London and the South East, supported by Allison Few, commercial manager and associate director, based in East Kilbride, who manages the supply chain operations for the North and Scotland.

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    Kathrine Larsen-Robert MS on heading up fine wine at Enotria

    Such is the competition in the premium on-trade wine market that even distributors of the scale and reputation as Enotria&Coe need to be changing, adapting and moving not just with the times, but ahead of it. Which is why it is keen to push the credentials of its fine wine portfolio and the fact it has promoted Kathrine Larsen-Robert MS from her premium wine ambassador role to the head of its new fine wine division. Here she sits down with Richard Siddle to explain what her new position entails and how Enotria&Coe wants to work closely with its producers and restaurant buyers to develop a fine wine offer that allows them to sell the finest wines to as many customers around the country as possible.    

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    Lanchester

    How the Lanchester Group got rewarded for sustainability drive

    It has been quite a month for Lanchester Group, and its founder Tony Cleary, scooping two major industry awards in recognition of the company’s pioneering approach to sustainability. The group, which includes Lanchester Wines and Greencroft Bottling, won the prestigious Green Wine Initiative trophy at the International Wine and Spirit Competition’s annual awards gala at London’s Roundhouse, while Cleary, who founded the company with wife Veronica in their living room more than forty years ago, was also personally recognised with an ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) award from the LDC (a part of Lloyds Banking Group) for creating ‘a business driven to contribute to a more sustainable future’. David Kermode caught up with Cleary as he was still taking it all in.

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    How new Virtual Wine Fair can help link producers and buyers

    Lawrence Francis has been at the forefront of digital and audio communications for the wine industry primarily through his breakthrough podcast, Interpreting Wine, that has recently celebrated its 200th episode. He is now looking to take audio comms to a new level by offering producers a new service whereby they can take part in Virtual Wine Fairs and share their unique stories through recorded audio descriptions of their wineries and wines. Recordings interested buyers can then use to find out more about the producer whilst tasting their wines. Here’s how it is all going to work.

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    Armit’s’ Nicolas Clerc on why somms work well for importers

    “I’d advise anyone wanting to get into the business now to be a nice person. It all starts and ends with a smile.” It’s an approach that has served Nicolas Clerc well in a career that has seen him rise to become a Master Sommelier during his time working at some of France and the UK’s top end restaurants, before making the switch to the supplier side where he is now heading up portfolio management at Armit Wines. Fresh from winning the Caterer Gérard Basset award for services to the wine trade, he sits down with Helen Arnold to share what he sees as being the key to having a successful  wine career – which bring us back to being the kind of person that producers and customers want to spend time and do business with.

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    The UK buyers had the chance to meet and taste a wide variety of wines from across all the PGIs in Central Greece during their recent trip

    Antonis Sioulis: how importers can find their Greek wine partner

    It is one thing wanting to source wines from a particular target country or region, it can be quite the challenge to find the right producer with the right wines for your business and customers. Particularly when looking at a developing wine country for the first time. Like Greece. Here we talk to Antonis Sioulis, managing partner of Reco Exports, that specialises in putting Greek wine producers together with the right overseas partners, about its new bespoke service it hopes to offer UK importers and wine buyers in finding the right Greek producer for their needs.

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    james mckenna

    How New Generation Wines’ producer partner model works

    The wine agency model comes in all different sizes, with a whole range of operating models. From the big national players that have 100s of producers and 1000s of wines on their books, right through to the small independent boutique operators with a specific niche or speciality. But as producers and suppliers, alike, look to offer more personalised and bespoke agency services one of the fastest growing and seemingly successful ways of working is for producers to have a controlling stake in their distributor and work hand in hand with that supplier on more of a partnership basis. Which is very much the way that New Generation Wines has built up its business with a strong core of South African wine producer partners as its key point of difference. Richard Siddle sits down with managing director, James McKenna, to find out how it all works and why he thinks its partnership model offers its customers the best possible service.

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    don st pierre

    Don St Pierre on wine’s biggest challenges & opportunities

    The Buyer continues its series talking to some of the keynote speakers taking part in this November’s Wine Future conference taking place in Coimbra, Portugal that hopes to tackle some of the biggest issues facing the global wine industry, by giving the floor to Don St Pierre, co-founder of ASC Fine Wines, one of the most important and influential wine importers, distributors in China. He explains why he thinks there are still so many untapped opportunities in the wine industry, particularly at the fine wine and luxury end of the market. 

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    Cru Wine’s customer service makes it a FT top business

    Recently named as one Europe’s fastest growing companies for the fourth consecutive year by the Financial Times, London-based wine merchants Cru Wine has also just celebrated 10 years in business. Chief executive and entrepreneur, Gregory Swartberg, talks to Helen Arnold about how exceptional customer service is the bedrock of the company’s success, and how it hopes to stand out in the competitive world of fine wine merchants and investment.

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    Adam Ketteringham on Corney & Barrow’s growth in N. England

    Location, location, location – thanks to Channel 4’s Kirstie and Phil we all know the importance of being well situated – and for Adam Ketteringham, one of Corney & Barrow’s account managers in the north of England, the opening of a new office in Leeds represents not only a big step up for him personally, but also for the whole north of England team. The premium wine distributor now has a much-improved, dedicated resource to better serve its existing customers in the north and target new venues and operators with its ever-expanding range of quality producers. Helen Arnold talks to Ketteringham about his career and what he hopes the new office can offer.

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    defined sugden

    Defined Wines’ winemaking services for English producers

    The speed of growth across the English wine industry means there are a huge number of vineyards and growers looking for wineries to help make their wine. Which has left a gap in the market for a business like Defined Wine to come in with its new contract winemaking business that can offer a wide range of bespoke winemaking services, through to bottling and helping to create and blend private label and branded wines. Founder,  Henry Sugden explains the key role it has to play.

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    dan sharp

    Boutinot’s Dan Sharp on being a good wine supplier

    Dan Sharp has not looked back since he first walked into his local Majestic store in Muswell Hill, north London, fresh out of university, to see if they had a job. Fast forward a few years later and after a brief sojourn into the coffee industry, he is back enjoying a career selling wine, now in his new role as head of the south of England for Boutinot. Richard Siddle asks what brought him back into the sector and what he sees as being the key factors a major wine supplier has to get right.

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    How Preferabli personalises discovery for wine & spirits

    With hundreds of thousands of products available the entire wine, beer, spirits and RTDs categories can be extremely challenging to market and sell, particularly as brands come and go all the time. Hundreds of products might appeal to a specific customer at any given moment.  But how can drinks businesses, retailers and online players present the right choice of products to the most relevant customer and consumer groups on every occasion – and how do you scale that choice as your business and target audience grows? Be it across web, mobile and intelligent chat. Here Pam Dillon, chief executive and co-founder of Preferabli, explains how it can answer all those questions. 

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    stonyridge

    Davy’s Andrew Chudley on its tasting & partnership strategy

    “We believe that building long term relationships between our producers and customers is the key to success and place a big focus on spending time in market with our producers.” That’s how Andrew Chudley, Davy’s Wine Merchants’ managing director and head wine buyer, describes the company’s strategy that has served the business well for over the last 150 years. He also marks your card on what to expect at its portfolio tasting in London on June 6.

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    How Wine52 takes members on a discovery tour around the world

    Edinburgh-based subscription wine club Wine52 claims to be a cut above the competition, describing itself as the UK’s largest wine discovery club and offering its members wines from new, emerging regions and countries. Helen Arnold catches up with head wine buyer, Thomas Sanetra, and talks to him about how a business that started out in craft beer – with Beer52 – has taken the same concept into wine to great success.

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    Wine Articles - PHOTO 1 - Cantina Luciano Sandrone  sits in the shadow of the famed Cannubi Boschis vineyard

    Pol Roger Portfolio’s link up with with Barolo’s Luciano Sandrone

    Earlier this year Pol Roger Portfolio announced the addition of the fabulous wines of famed Barolo producer Luciano Sandrone to its range of fine wines for the UK trade. Built on the success of the eponymous Champagne brand, Pol Roger Portfolio continues to include some of the most celebrated names in wines and spirits. Earlier in the spring The Buyer’s Mike Turner sat down with Pol Roger Portfolio’s James Simpson MW, to discuss the recent additions and future opportunities for this premium drinks’ agency. This was followed a couple of weeks later with a visit to Barolo to meet Barbara Sandrone to discuss their hopes for this exciting new partnership.

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    canned wine copper crew

    Canned Wine Co on being champion for canned wine sector

    With canned wine sales in the UK now close to £15m and an estimated global value of over £160m it is quietly moving from a niche to mainstay of the overall UK wine market, particularly as its sustainability credentials tick so many boxes for businesses looking to hit their environmental and carbon net zero targets. Any growing sector, though, needs pillar brands and businesses to set the standards and show the way forward for smaller players to follow. Which is what the Canned Wine Co now believes it is in a position to do, particularly with last week’s acquisition of The Copper Crew canned wine brand. The Buyer talks to Ben Franks, co-founder  and wine buyer for Canned Wine Co about why it decided to buy a rival brand and what he sees as the future for the overall canned wine market.

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    alliance ned llewellyn sales director off trade

    Alliance Wine on its Edinburgh Marathon run for The Drinks Trust

    “In the current climate The Drinks Trust’s work has become increasingly vital and we believe supporting its work is crucial.” That’s the reason why Alliance Wine has pulled together a team from across the business who are willing to put the trainers on, and the miles in, to run the Edinburgh Marathon next month and help raise money for the drinks industry’s charity. Here’s how you can help them make their efforts worthwhile.

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