New Winery Exchange chief rises to the challenge
"Get on with it and stop moaning" is the message from Winery Exchange's new managing director, to the UK trade.
Rufus Weston, who takes up the position of manager director for the UK and Europe from June 1, is to replace Dan Irving who has been promoted to vice-president of the company's international operations and will be moving back to the US in July.
Weston described the UK as a challenge but he said "everybody needs to get on with it and stop moaning". "No one forces you to work in the wine trade," he added.
He sees engaging the next generation of drinkers as a challenge and added: "It's important to drive value and not just the lowest common denominator. In the UK, premiumisation is not a red herring and consumers continue to be interested in products with provenance.
"[For wine] there is more opportunity at the £7 mark than at the £5."
Weston has been the commercial director at Winery Exchange for the past two years and he told Harpers that Holland, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland will be key targets for growth.
"These markets are open in terms of consumption patterns. They are more willing to try things like New World wines and more contemporary, approachable brands."
Weston will also be looking to drive spirits growth across Europe. "Our ability to source craft beer in the US has done well in places like Sainsbury's and we're looking to do the same with spirits," he said.
Weston singled out dark rum, gin and tequila as spirits with growth potential but added the company's mainstay was wine.
In the past, Weston has held sales, marketing and commercial roles at Buckingham Vintners, Beringer Blass/Foster's and Enotria.
Irving said: "We have been very impressed with the impact Rufus has made since starting at Winery Exchange, both in the UK and Europe. I am confident he will continue to drive sales growth in the region and raise our profile with new and existing partners.
"He is very strong strategically and understands the markets well. Having Rufus lead the operations in Europe will enable me to focus more of my efforts developing new markets including Canada, Asia, South America and Australia."