Richard Siddle, comment, September 18
Over the last few months we have been quietly going around visiting drinks companies around the country as part of our Tour of Britain series (more reports to follow shortly). We have had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at wine agencies, merchants, large and small distributors as well as restaurants and bars.
What strikes you is how similar and yet so different many of the companies are. Time and again the same issues come to the fore - most noticeably keeping on top of logistic, supply chain and currency issues. But whilst on paper, and in reality, the companies can be following very different paths, their passion, commitment, and how much of what they do is based around the people and their relationships with their suppliers is what really shines through.
There are times when I feel I could act as a matchmaker and put different businesses together and say you would work perfectly together. Whilst there are other companies you meet that are poles apart in every way.
It was, therefore, no surprise that PLB and HwCg have finally come together. Even if events hadn't conspired to make the deal inevitable both sides concede they were following such similar paths of growth that they were becoming increasingly suitable partners.
The wine trade is full of talk of who might link up with who in the future, be it on a corporate or personal level. But knowing what is the right move to make is what sorts out the winners and losers in business.
Take HwCg. Guy Young freely concedes things started to go wrong when it got involved in business interests in Australia that were outside its normal comfort zone. Whilst its UK wine business was still achieving double-digit growth despite the recession it was the debts and troubles of its extra curricular Australian business that brought it down.
In every way PLB and HwCg appear to have found the right match. The difficulty will now come in bringing the two businesses together. But we know at this parish, at Harpers Wine & Spirit, the strength and potential that comes from bringing two complementary parties together. We wish them well.