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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Josie Butchart

Mike Paul, managing director of leading UK distributor Western Wines, called on Italian wine producers to forget their deep rivalries' and join forces to forge a generic promotional initiative for the UK, before Italy's market share slumps further. Speaking at the trade and press seminar held at the first ever UK Federdoc tasting in London, Paul outlined a strategy for the promotion of Italian wines based on lessons learned during his involvement in the Australian and Chilean generic campaigns. Paul said that Italy has already been at base camp for some time now', and stressed that the success of any generic initiative depends on leading producers and distributors lending their full, whole-hearted support' and being motivated by the desire to export or die' displayed by the Australians, South Africans and Chileans. Also speaking at the event, Pierpaolo Petrassi, commercial manager of International Wine Services and president of the Italian Wine Committee, agreed that Italian producers need to act quickly before the opportunities in the UK off-trade slip away. Petrassi pointed out that Italy's competitors are less burdened by over-regulation' and are therefore better able to react to FMCG consumer trends. Petrassi also stressed the importance of producers and distributors working together to build Brand Italy' and push sales above the sub-5 price point, which currently accounts for 95.9% of all Italian wine sold in the UK. Kate Maloney, business development director of TNS, profiled the average consumer of Italian wines in the UK and suggested that producers should be focusing on the expanding grey market', where sales of Italian wines are already above the national average and disposable income is high, as well as the smaller but growing sector of 17-24-year-old females who are above index' purchasers of Italian wines.