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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jack Hibberd

The Wine and Spirit Association is to radically restructure' following the release of a report on its structure and governance, although it will continue to represent both the wine and spirits trades. Barry Sutton - who chaired the working committee asked to report on the association - said the changes were designed to transform the WSA from an excessively bureaucratic organisation into a lean, fit machine capable of representing the various needs of the trade in the 21st century.' The changes include the phasing out' of several senior positions, such as treasurer, president and deputy chairman; the amalgamation of several committees; and changes to the roles of the director and the executive committee. There were several positions and committees that were duplicating work done elsewhere in the organisation - the position of president, for example, wasn't really understood by the trade. The biggest change is arguably to the role of director - it will now be a much larger role with much more responsibility for the direction, finances and operation of the Association. As such, it will become the role of director general.' The current director of the Association, Quentin Rappoport, will be staying for a couple of months to oversee the changes' before being replaced in early summer. Quentin has been at the WSA for seven years and has done some excellent work and overseen some big changes in that time. I think, however, that both the group and Quentin felt a fresh face was needed to fill the new, much larger role and take the Association forward in its new era.' Joanna Delaforce, current chairman of the WSA, who commissioned the group's report, welcomed the proposed changes: These changes are dramatic but necessary. The new, leaner organisation will ensure rapid and effective responses to the trade's needs for support, information and consultation.' Delaforce will finish her term this year, with a new chairman to be appointed in June. Sutton added that he was hopeful' that the Wine Trade Action Group (WTAG) would work from within' the new streamlined association. Mike Paul, chairman of WTAG, said he had taken part in good discussions' with the WSA and that a decision on how WTAG would work with the WSA in future would be taken at a meeting of its members on 22 March. I would like, however, to congratulate the working group on the speed with which it has moved,' he added. A new Executive Board' (replacing the Executive commitee) will be announced next week, and will have increased powers.

The role of director will be replaced with an expanded role of director general with a greatly increased reposibility for direction, strategy, finance and operations.

The positions of president, deputy chairman and treasurer are to be phased out, as are several senior subcommittees (such as excise strategy and social issues).

The Executive Committee will be renamed the Executive Board and will now have full authority for policy.

The chairman's workload will be reduced, with more repsonsibility for strategy rather than day-to-day business, in order to attract a leading figure from the wine trade.