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Michael Cox of Wines of Chile's leaders for 2010

Published:  31 December, 2009

Michael Cox, UK director, Wines of Chile on the challenges facing the drinks industry in 2010 and the leaders best placed to help the sector move forward

Who do you see as being the leading figures in the UK drinks industry and why?

There are many issues facing the wine trade and my concern is I do not see much leadership. One figure who is doing more than most is Jeremy Beadles, the tenacious head of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association. A lesser man would have thrown in the towel in the face of government intransigence, neo prohibitionist health police, and industry apathy. Jeremy has built a team of experts that are doing their best to highlight the way forward and to change attitudes. The WSTA is leading while many bury their heads.

Who have been your biggest influencers?

From an early age I was in awe of my maternal grandfather Michael Gordon Clark, and my respect grew when I started working in the wine trade in the 1970s. Learning how he helped get the British wine trade back on its feet after the Second World War, and his work with the Wine & Spirit Association and The Vintners' Company has made me understand more about the need to develop strong and trusting relationships, and to uphold the highest standards of business ethics. I am proud to follow in his footsteps and to follow his principles.

What is the biggest leadership challenge facing the drinks industry in 2010?

The trade must collectively admit it is under threat. There is too much denial around. One threat comes is the lack of profitability that is making the trading of wine close to unsustainable for too many. The principle threat, however, is the growing trend to demonise alcohol.The trade is in danger of losing the argument and appears rudderless in a sea of potential legislation and control. Interestingly the anti-alcohol threat is in many ways fuelled by the low price environment in the trade.

Michael Cox is UK director of Wines of Chile