|Bibendum grows pre-tax profits 25%, but is not complacent|
|Written by Gemma McKenna|
|Tuesday, 19 June 2012 12:15|
Bibendum has grown profits before tax by 25% to £3.5 million for the financial year ending March 31, but the firm insists “there’s no room for complacency”.
“We’re doing alright given the macro-economic circumstances. It’s pretty tough right now. There’s no room for complacency,” said Michael Saunders, Bibendum’s managing director (pictured).
The group boosted turnover by 5% to £184.9 million, increasing margins from 13.6% to 14.4%. Saunders said this was down to increasing efficiencies: “The market doesn’t allow us to increase margins at the front-end, so we have to introduce systems and processes and do everything as cleanly as possible.”
Since its financial year ended on March 31, 2012, it has acquired the remaining 34% share stake in Argento, but Saunders isn’t planning any big changes. “It suited both parties to take the next move. It’s not a catalyst for substantive change - but we like having total control,”
It has also been investing heavily in the development of data, and offering market insight to its customers. “We’ve got very strong competitors out there we try and have some points of difference - Market Insights is a key part of that and it’s having quite a lot of impact. It can put a very different spin on what we’re trying to discuss with customers - and can inform decisions.
Bibendum is the wine and Champagne supplier for this summer’s Olympics - and the three official wines are a Fairtrade white and rosé from South Africa, while the red wine is Brazilian. “It’s quite unusual - but fits as it’s the 2012 vintage - and also because it’s a nod to where the next Olympics will be held. It’s quite pioneering in a typical Bibendum way,” said Saunders.
It has been carrying out trials on customer taste profiling through its Taste Test with Waitrose and Mitchells & Butlers All Bar One brand. M&B’s director of wine buying Joan Torrents told Harpers last year that it had influenced customers buying decisions, and encouraged trial of more expensive or different wines. Saunders hinted that there will be a “new iteration” of Taste Test in the autumn of an “ambitious scale”, which would “make everyone sit up and notice”.
Overall, picking out key trends, Saunders said there has been a “pendulum shift” towards European wines, especially aromatic styles. He added that the London market was very strong, “it’s an island within an island”. “There are more restaurants, bars and clubs opening than you could have imagined in the middle of such a tough economic climate.”
“Although it’s difficult there are definitely opportunities for companies that really try hard.”
Bibendum won Best Overall Agent/Distributor of the Year and the award for the Responsible/Sustainable Business of the year at Harpers inaugural awards last month. Managing director Saunders also won the Special Achievement award for the impact his company has had in changing the face of the traditional wine supplier.