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Accolade Wines' no longer 'slow to react', says UK chief

Published:  24 March, 2014

Accolade Wines' UK general manager says cultural changes at the company and a smaller team have made it more responsive to customers.

Paul Schaafsma, general manager for UK, Ireland and global partners, told "There's been a big cultural change within the company, there's a lot more wine people and a lot more entrepreneurial spirit. It's a small team and a flatter structure. We're more relevant to our customers' needs. There was the analogy that Accolade was a big battleship that was slow to react, but we've worked very hard to be more relevant to customers."

Since coming on board in September 2012, Schaafsma has made changes to the company including cutting 30% of staff.

"We had to make changes and make sure we were appropriate and in line with what our P&L would allow. It's a competitive market and you've got to have appropriate resources, but you can't always have everything. You've got to have the right balance."

He said changes had now been bedded in and the company was experiencing "really satisfying" 9.9% MAT growth in the UK.

He said the firm was now "empowering people to take on more responsibility" and had brought more "great young people" into the business through its graduate scheme. He said this programme allowed the company to "mould people into the appropriate resource, without having some of the baggage of another company's culture".

Last week Accolade announced that Hardys has signed a three-year sponsorship deal with the English Cricket Board, including branding at test matches and 20 20 as well as Sky Sports TV ad spots. Following a major investment in Hardys, Schaafsma said it is growing at 11.7% MAT by volume and is the number one wine in both the on and off-trades, with an average price point of £5.22, up from £4.73 18 months ago.

For a full in-depth Q&A with Paul Schaafsma about what's happening in the UK market, retail partnerships and brand growth, check our website later this week.