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The UK wine trade needs to come to terms with the fact it is no longer the number one market for many international wine producers, according to Andrew Hawes, managing director for Mentzendorff.
Whilst the UK still remains a vital part of the global wine trade, it can “no longer take as read” that every wine producer wants to sell its wines there, said Hawes.
Speaking at today’s Vinexpo exhibition in Bordeaux Hawes said more of his role was to explain to Mentzendoff’s portfolio of suppliers the dynamics of the UK market and better ways for them to work there.
He said the UK market had now polarised in to three distinct sectors: the national supermarket and multiple accounts; the regional wholesale and independent market; and the UK on-trade, with particular emphasis on the premium London restaurant trade.
As a consequence Mentzendorff has now taken on more sales staff in all those three key areas including a new team dedicated to serving the premium London restaurant scene.
“For a generation we have become used to the UK being the number one market but now there are so many other emerging markets and opportunities for producers. Our own market has evolved quite dramatically,” said Hawes.
“There are now more profitable areas of the market appearing, like the independent secotr, at the same time as the main volume market has become increasingly more difficult.”
But the changes were only to be expected considering we now have arguably the most mature grocery multiple sector in the world. “The new areas that are emerging, like the premium on-trade, do not offer huge volumes, but they are significant sectors. The London restaurant trade is probably as good as it has ever been.”
He added: “But the trends are cyclical. It is sad to see what has happened to Oddbins, but that opens up new opportunities for other people. A few years ago the multiple specialists, like Threshers and Unwins, really hit the independents hard, but now we are seeing a resurgence within the independent sector.”
It was now a key part of his job to ensure his supplier base were in tune with the changing UK marketplace. “We need to explain the UK market to them. There is a danger that they see it reaching a tipping point.”
The changing dynamics, he added, can also be seen in the way many of the multiples now want to far more closely with their suppliers in establishing long term partnerships.
It mirrors, he said, the way that Mentzendorff likes to work with its own agency partners. Building long term relationships like the one it has just started with Chilean premium wine producer, Casa Marin, from the San Antonio Valley.