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2015 year in review and hopes and fears for 2016: Ayo Akintola, Oddbins

Published:  23 December, 2015

Ayo Akintola, the managing director of Oddbins saw 2015 as a challenging, but satisfactory year.  The 'manic' response of retailers to threat of discounters moving into the UK has been a challenge in 2015.  But Akintola is looking forward to 2016 as he sees the opportunity to work with interesting suppliers as a 'once in a generation' opportunity.

How was 2015 for you and your business?

It has been a very interesting and challenging year. And assuming that the last 13 days of trading match hit expectations it will have been a very satisfactory 12 months.   

What do you think were the most significant things that happened, or issues and trends that occurred in 2015?

Definitely the manic response of the multiple grocers and that other large wine retailer to the supposed threats of the discounters, leading all to cull their range and by default offering their customers less choice. There must have been a memo sent out stating this is the action to take and they all went along - wine buying by spreadsheet, bean counters and so called analysts. Fortunately we weren't sent this memo and even if we had, it would have been enthusiastically ignored.

What opportunities are you most looking forward to working on in 2016?

Working with those interesting and loyal suppliers who are being purged by other retailers. Being this spoilt for choice of great producers is a once in a generation opportunity. It gives Oddbins an accelerated ability to further enhance and position our range to make it even more unique and compelling for the consumer. And we are now big enough to list these wines on an exclusive basis in the UK, which will lead to us acquiring new customers from the cullers.

What are the biggest challenges facing the trade in 2016?

Unpredictable and excessive government interference with business without any thought, understanding or appreciation of the impact of its supposed well-meaning, but ill-conceived policies on SMEs. Don't get me started on Business Rate reform (lack of) - a classic example of how an inept government impacts business planning.

Who are the people, companies and retailers to watch in 2016?

Martin Williams of  "M" for blurring the lines between on/off trade and doing so in a stylish manner. Starbucks, for its foray into wine selling in the UK. I have seen how this operates in the US and the impact it has had, so its worth keeping an eye on their approach in the UK. And I think it is going to be a good year for independent wine retailers, with the multiples losing the plot and going backwards in terms of their offering. In spite of all the noise the discounters do not yet have the footprint to really impact trends, so it will be the independents and small companies like Oddbins that will really bring innovation to the industry over the next few years.

What are you doing for Christmas and New Year?

Christmas catching up on sleep. New Year's Eve hosting dinner for family 

What will be your favourite tipple over Christmas and New Year?

Gimonnet et Fils Fleuron Premier Cru 2006, a firm favourite with most Oddbins members of staff

Favourite Christmas film?

Every Christmas I watch the same exact 3 films: Stalag 17, Catch 22 and We're No Angels

Ideal day out over Christmas period?

Leisurely brunch with an endless supply of Bloody Marys with close friends at The Carlyle   

What do you want most from Father Christmas?

Nothing, I haven't believed in Father Christmas since the age of 6!

New Year's resolution?

I make resolutions as and when I need to make them. Unless it's something that creeps up between Christmas day and New Year's Eve, the idea of waiting till the New Year to make a resolution is potty. Add in the fact that 8 out of 10 of these so called new year's resolutions relate to not drinking.... You can understand why I feel the whole notion should be banned!