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Two Good, 2 Bad for 2013 - Hopes and Fears for 2014: Andrew Bewes, Hallgarten Druitt

Published:  26 December, 2013

We asked key suppliers and producers to give their highs and lows for 2013 and their hopes and fears for the year ahead.


Andrew Bewes, Hallgarten Druitt

2   Good

1 Going round the country with our 80th anniversary roadshow in which we showcased some of the many wines that our customers had chosen as their favourites.  I always enjoy getting on the road to meet our customers and their enthusiasm for and loyalty to our wines and producers never ceases to strike a chord.

2 Welcoming Gerard Bertrand to our portfolio. With France so much in need of strong branded operators this was a real highlight and it has come at a time of rising interest in the South of France as a source of more than just entry level wines.  In addition to seven spectacular properties such as Hospitalet and Sauvageonne, it is great to see sales of appellations such as Picpoul gathering pace and fantastic to have innovative wines like Gris Blanc - the perfect summer drink  - to sell this year.

2  Bad

 1  The loss of Peter Lehmann was very sad for all that knew him; he touched so many lives over his long career, and indeed inspired a remarkable number of people across the Australian and international winemaking community. He leaves the company in very good hands, but will be sorely missed by all.

2  The increasing challenge of making a commercial margin. The on-going effects of the duty escalator combined with a challenging set of circumstances in sourcing quality and well-priced commercial wines from around the world to create something of a perfect storm in 2013.  There has been, quite understandably, considerable resistance to breaking key price points on restaurant lists over the past few years and each year we work as dynamically as possible with customers (often having to move to a lesser appellation or quality level) to allow them to retain margin at key price points of their lists. 

As an industry we have all be doing this and we are probably all reaching the same point - nowhere to run!  Ultimately, the days of a sub-£20 wine on a 'normal' wine list (with 'normal' restaurant margins of between 70 and 75%) are numbered and the consumer will have to pay for wine more in restaurants just as they are already doing in retail. 



1 That we can work  together as an industry to reignite the London Wine Trade Fair. We want and need the UK to have a successful trade event - one that works effectively for our customers, suppliers and for us and which both attracts and fuels wine-interested professionals.  It is increasingly tough to justify the expenditure these days (particularly on top of the many generic and company tastings that we all undertake) so for us 2014 is a make or break year for the LWTF.

2 That we can continue to develop and modernise Hallgarten to enable is to offer ground-breaking wines and first class customer service. Over the past four years we have changed over 500 wines on our wine list, further developed our range of  exclusive international house wines, bought Novum wines and grown sales from £33m to £45m. The quest continues and 2014 will bring further change and improvements in our offering.


1 That both collectively and individually the wine industry does not move forward. Consolidation of supply continues unabated and as an industry we need to each resist the temptation to 'buy' business and offer loss making deals with the hope that we will make up some margin somewhere along the line.      

Ultimately this practice is unsustainable and even the hardest-nosed  retailers and restaurateurs will admit that they need their suppliers to be commercially viable! We all do a lot of the same things each year we need to ensure we are focused on what really matters which is helping      our customers to sell better quality wine and feed the undoubted public interest in food and wine.

2 That the duty escalator will be extended and continue to punish both the wine industry and more broadly, the licenced trade. Increasing numbers of wine drinkers and trade operators will resort to the black market or simply be forced away from wine altogether. 

The WSTA has got the bit between the teeth, but we all need to be visible in our support for its initiatives if we are to be heard over the very loud and well-connected voices of the major spirits and beer players.