|Hatch Mansfield upbeat despite difficult climate|
|Written by Gemma McKenna|
|Thursday, 04 October 2012 09:47|
Hatch Mansfield is optimistic about the future given its brands operate in the more premium sector.
But managing director Patrick McGrath told Harpers that the industry needs to protect itself against administration and operate cautiously to avoid over-stretching itself.
"It's been a pretty difficult couple of years but we're pretty upbeat. We're in a niche market - everything we sell is above £6 so we operate in the top 3-4% of the market," he said.
He said Taittinger was performing "very strongly" and that it was focusing on new gift boxes for Christmas in an effort to distance itself from promotional rates.
McGrath added that Louis Jadot was also doing well: "Of all the brands from the Old World, it seems Burgundy is doing really well, particularly in independents and the major multiples.
"Those premium brands that people recognise as being good value are doing very well."
Its New World sales are driven by New Zealand's Villa Maria, where founder Sir George Fistonich has been celebrating his 50th year in winemaking. McGrath warned that the New Zealand market was changing thanks to a "very short vintage and exchange rates" which would pose difficulties for half price offers in supermarkets.
"The UK has to realise that it must pay more," he added, saying it was vital to convince customers to trade up so that producers want to keep selling here.
"I think 2013 will be better than 2012," he said. But he sounded a note of caution when it comes to the New World. He doesn't believe New World exchange rates will "get any better", but said "price points will move up" pushing some key brands over the £10 barrier. "It's inevitable given currency and duty."
In the past year it has upped its focus on working with independents and McGrath said the "message has been getting across to indies that we don't just have large brands".
McGrath said that Hatch was "picking up a lot of independent accounts" as the sector flourishes. "A lot of people want to spend on the high street. In five years we will probably have double the amount of independent accounts as we do now."
Its Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc is its biggest single line on the high street, as a number of independents look to list well-known brands. "But equally others prefer to take smaller brands," said McGrath.
Hatch has recently taken on South African brand Kleine Zalze and is "looking at one or two new agencies". But as for adding a host more agencies, McGrath said it has a "pretty full portfolio" and prefers limiting its size to allow it to focus more on its brands.
But with all the changes happening in the industry right now, McGrath said "a lot of people are knocking on our door", but he maintained that Hatch is prepared to take on just one brand next year.