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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Christian Davis

Mario Micheli, regional president UK, Europe, Africa and Middle East of Southcorp Wines Europe, has left the company, following a meeting in London last Monday with Southcorp's managing director and chief executive officer, Keith Lambert. The new head is Jeffrey Wilkinson, who was Southcorp's general manager, New South Wales and Victoria operations. Micheli took over in January 2001 from Mike Paul, who moved to the Sainsbury's/Oddbins joint venture, Destination Wines, and is now managing director of Western Wines. The Italian had been territory director, Western Europe for the world's biggest brewer, Anheuser-Busch, establishing Budweiser as a major brand in 14 countries. He soon installed two of his former Anheuser-Busch colleagues, Peter Jackson and James Lousada (see Harpers, 22 November) and oversaw a refurbishment of the Southcorp premises in Twickenham, southwest London. The official statement from Lambert said: Jeffrey Wilkinson replaces Mario Micheli, who has decided to leave Southcorp to pursue other interests and career aspirations after three years in the role. Mario will, however, be available to the business over the next few months, to assist the company in this transition.'

Jeffrey Wilkinson Southcorp Wines Europe's new regional president is 41 and was formerly the company's general manager, operations, New South Wales and Victoria. He has been in the UK for three weeks and was also in London from April to July this year, assessing the UK market and Southcorp Europe's approach to it. He told Harpers: I was assisting in a lot of areas - supply chain, information technology, spending time with customers. I know the systems, I know the structure and I know the team, so there is no warm-up phase; I will hit the ground running. After 20 years of Australian success [in the UK market] I want to make sure we don't lose the magic.' Wilkinson started as a winemaker with Brown Brothers 25 years ago. He studied oenology at Charles Sturt University and then worked for Wolf Blass, becoming operations director for Mildara Blass. In 1997 he became operations director for Rosemount. Asked about the future of Micheli appointees Peter Jackson and James Lousada, Wilkinson said: I know these guys. They are extremely key managers; very capable, hard-working business people. I know them already. I am also looking forward to welcoming Ian Tottman', from Pernod Ricard.