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Jerry Lockspeiser: Should business get involved in politics? Like it or not, we already are

Published:  22 February, 2024

Back in the good old days when my life involved selling millions of bottles of Hungarian wine to the UK’s major retailers, I made an appointment with the buyer at Sainsbury’s. They bought from one of our competitors and were proving a hard nut for me to crack. Buyers often kept suppliers waiting beyond the appointed time, so I settled down with my copy of The Guardian in anticipation.

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Jerry Lockspeiser: Are we forgetting what customers care about most?

Published:  25 January, 2024

Izzy is a twenty-year-old student at York University. Many decades ago I was one there too. In my time students received grants for living costs and tuition fees were paid by the Government. Today those are dealt with by repayable loans. But the loans may not be enough to allow access to all. Like Izzy, for example.

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Soapbox: Why is the government so disinterested in the wine trade?

Published:  19 December, 2023

The Wine Society CEO Steve Finlan calls out the government’s lack of engagement with the hard-pressed UK drinks trade.

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Scotland’s call to government as hospitality faces ‘continued barrage of challenges’

Published:  03 October, 2023

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) is pleading for more support to help protect the hospitality sector, as venues report the crippling impact of staff vacancies and ‘a continued wave of cost increases’.

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Jerry Lockspeiser: Growth is central to business strategy. Is it time to change?

Published:  27 September, 2023

Many years ago I was asked to act as a strategic consultant to a Chilean wine business. They wanted help with reformulating their strategy, first to achieve break even, then to reach sustainable profitability. The business was 100% targeted at export markets, with the UK a key priority.

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Large operator profit doubles, though challenges remain

Published:  17 July, 2023

The percentage of the UK’s largest restaurant companies turning a profit has doubled in the last year, according to new figures. However, further interest rate rises now hover over the horizon. As a result, hospitality’s biggest operators could be facing new challenges on their return journey to profitability.

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Proposals to remove ban on international blending in the UK

Published:  07 July, 2023

The government claims new proposals to enable businesses to ‘blend’ and ‘transform’ bulk wine on UK turf will ‘put a rocket’ under UK trade, by allowing businesses the flexibility to blend across countries of origin – though some say this will sound death knell for wines of provenance.

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Jerry Lockspeiser: Are brands the answer to Wine UK’s problems?

Published:  28 March, 2023

In the early days of my wine business career an experienced trader told me to hang onto an important insight. He said that wine is one of those subjects where the more you know the less you understand.

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Boutinot Wines: Our friends in the north

Published:  14 March, 2023

The straight-talking northern distributor is a company with many hidden talents, writes Jo Gilbert.

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Nick Gillett: Wholesale at a crossroads – which way now?

Published:  10 February, 2023

We’re now at a crossroads in the UK. I don’t mean economically or politically. I will leave others to comment on that. Having worked previously for a wholesaler and now as a distributor, it’s the changing wholesale drinks market I want to discuss.

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The business of bartending

Published:  11 January, 2023

The evolution of the bartender during Covid and beyond continues to define a role that calls not only for impeccable drinks and cocktail-making skills, but commercial savvy, too. Clinton Cawood reports

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Thirty years of The Oxford Wine Company

Published:  20 December, 2022

After 30 years in business, Ted Sandbach, owner and chairman of The Oxford Wine Company, says moving to – and staying in – Oxford is still the best decision he’s ever made. Jo Gilbert reports

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Jerry Lockspeiser: On honesty, transparency and trust in business relationships

Published:  29 November, 2022

Here’s a quiz question for the work Christmas party: what have Amazon, the cost of bottling wine and Ofgem got in common?

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Soapbox: Battling the behemoths

Published:  17 November, 2022

Nick Gillett, MD of Mangrove UK, on the uphill battle smaller brands face with ever more powerful players dominating the industry.

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Nick Gillett: Greenwashing – are you looking a little grubby?

Published:  03 October, 2022

‘Net Zero’, ‘Carbon reduction’, ‘Sustainability’, and ‘Offsetting’ – all good stuff and we’re now used to bandying these terms around like they’re going out of fashion. But whilst brands are waxing lyrical about their green credentials and how they’re busy saving the planet, how many actually are?

Whether intentionally or not, more than a few drinks brands at best ‘polishing’ their green credentials to look better than they are – and some are just lying. Beyond misleading conscious consumers and reaping undeserved competitive advantages, it pisses me off, because it’s actively halting the industry’s Net Zero progress which is where we should be placing our focus.

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Jerry Lockspeiser: Thrills and spills with Veseth’s wine economics

Published:  16 August, 2022

Mike Veseth doesn’t just make wine economics understandable; he makes it thrilling.

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Looking ahead: Winne Toh, The Aubrey at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

Published:  01 August, 2022

With the first half of 2022 already history, Harpers asked key trade figures to highlight the current challenges, ongoing trends and opportunities.

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Looking ahead: Elise Mérigaud, La Dame de Pic

Published:  21 July, 2022

With the first half of 2022 already history, Harpers asked key trade figures to highlight the current challenges, ongoing trends and opportunities.

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Jerry Lockspeiser: Lessons from the Tory leadership – are we heading into disaster?

Published:  21 July, 2022

Oh dear, perhaps it was always too much to hope for. The embarrassment of the country being led by a self-serving clown has finally timed out, but the opportunity for serious politics to be rehabilitated looks certain to be missed.

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Calls for action on business rates as inflation reaches 40-year high

Published:  20 July, 2022

Mounting pressure is being placed on the government to ease the ‘financial fragility’ of the hospitality sector during its upcoming review of business rates, as businesses continue to suffer rising supply chain costs and runaway inflation.

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