Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

New Sainsbury's BWS boss joins from Tesco

Published:  23 July, 2008

Sainsbury's beer, wines and spirits department has a new boss, Xavier Vidal, who has been poached from Tesco.
Frenchman Vidal comes in as business unit director, replacing Lawrence Clube, and will be responsible for the 6 billion impulse sector, which includes confectionery, soft drinks, snacks, tobacco and petrol, as well as BWS.

Asked what he sees as his major challenge, Vidal told Harpers: To communicate better with our customers; and to tell them how hard we work on getting wine for them compared to the rest of the trade. Food and wine really is a passion for us. The same may be true of Marks & Spencer, but I do not think they have the same passion at Tesco.'

Vidal went from the Auchan supermarket chain to Tesco in Ireland, following his Irish then-girlfriend. After two years he moved to Tesco's Cheshunt headquarters, where he was responsible for tea, coffee, sugar, confectionery and biscuits.

Asked what he likes to drink, he said: I used to like Muscadet sur lie, but in Ireland I got to taste wines other than French wines. Of the mainstream wines, I like Casillero del Diablo, Mont Gras and Wolf Blass.'

Also on the move is Abi Hirshfield, Sainsbury's new wine buyer for France and the US, who has joined the company from Laithwaites.

Melissa Draycott has dropped spirits and added Champagne & sparkling and South Africa to her portfolio, which also includes fortified wines.

Other recent appointments include Kimberley Davenport as marketing and PR manager for the BWS trading team and ex-winemaker Barry Dick as product technologist for wines beers and spirits. Finally, Gemma Fraser is the new buying assistant, focusing on Champagne & sparkling, fine wines, South America, South Africa and JS Online.

At the Spring/Summer tasting on 11 May, Sainsbury showed its new Taste the Difference' wines, which replace the Classic Selection. With the exception of New Zealand, Australia remains Sainsbury's fastest-growing New World country.

Buyer Julian Dyer described the emergence of a credible regional offering' as one of the most exciting developments in Australia'. He said: Regionality, diversity and complexity are not the preserve of the Old World and I am convinced these new Australian regional wines will reinvigorate the category and encourage customers to experiment.'

On New Zealand, he said that customers cannot get enough of New Zealand wine, Sauvignon Blanc especially, and with a big 2006 vintage now in, I can see the recent heady growth rates continuing for some time to come. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is the absolute bulls-eye wine style for the modern wine consumer - unoaked, floral, dry, with an abundance of primary fruit flavours.'

Helen McEvoy, wine buyer for Spain, Portugal and Germany, reports a 25% growth in the multiple's SO organic range and Spain up 13%, with Spanish white and ros up 18%.

Hirshfield said she is reviewing the total French category but that the Loire and Rhne are Sainsbury's most successful French regions. However, she believes southern France is one of the most exciting'.

On fine wine, recently departed Andrew Bird said that in autumn Sainsbury will be introducing wines from emerging cool-climate regions of Chile, rustic delights from tiny suppliers in Tuscany and Puglia, vintage Port, grower Champagnes and even red wine from Austria'.

Product quality manager Howard Winn announced that he is launching a sparkling wine sealed under a synthetic closure for the first time.

The most recent technical innovation is the launch of a new Italian sparkling Pinot Grigio, using a revolutionary new synthetic stopper - NuSpark - which behaves like a sparkling wine mushroom cork but has no cork taint problems,' he said.