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Matthew Clark's Simon Jerrome says suppliers need to work harder to make tastings must attend events

Published:  13 May, 2014

Wine suppliers need to completely rethink the way they organise trade tastings to keep them relevant to the changing demands of wine buyers, according to Simon Jerrome, wine purchasing director at Matthew Clark.

He told that Matthew Clark had looked in 2014 to give "a total overhaul of everything we have done in our recent history" when it comes to trade events.

The highlight of which was its recent Discover the Unexpected tasting which received wide praise across the trade for its new approach. Here Matthew Clark split all its wines up by region, with a separate room dedicated to each room so that there "was no confusion and plenty of space," stressed Jerrome. "If people wanted to taste 350 wines then they could, but if people just wanted to focus on a particular region it was easy for them to do this. Customers have busy lives, and it has become increasingly important to make it as convenient and pleasurable as possible for them to attend our events."

He said suppliers have been guilty in the past of putting on events that were in the interests of their producers. He explained: "We have to remember tastings are for the visitors; the customers, and not just for the producers.  They're about offering people reasons to buy, rather than giving them the hard sell."

His comments come on the eve of the London Wine Fair which itself has gone through a very public switch in approach and is promising a number of changes to make it more relevant and appealing to its visitors.

It is a move very much in keeping with the rest of the trade, added Jerrome. "The wine trade landscape is looking for a new and more engaging approach to tastings and customer events."

In an opinion piece on today's, Jerrome asked: "With so many suppliers, so many regions and so many wines competing for the trade's attention  combined with an increasing squeeze on time available and pressures on margins how do we make our tastings a 'must attend' for the trade?"