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Published:  23 July, 2008

The Wine Trade Action Group (WTAG) has endorsed the proposed restructuring of the Wine & Spirit Association (WSA). Six WTAG members will constitute 50% of the new interim executive board, although members of WTAG have decided to continue to meet.

WTAG chairman Mike Paul told Harpers: The WSA working party has done an impressive job and worked extremely fast. It has come up with a structure and governance.'

The six WTAG members on the executive are: Chris Carson, chief executive officer of Constellation Europe; David Cox, vice president, general manager of Brown-Forman; Nick Hyde, managing director of Diageo's wine division, Percy Fox; Patrick McGrath MW, managing director of Hatch Mansfield; Adrian McKeon, managing director of Allied Domecq Wines; and Bill Page, chairman of Mentzendorff.

Paul said that the 30 members of WTAG, all senior figures within the wine trade, had decided to continue to meet but that it was not a rival association. The WSA has showed willingness to reform and given wine greater emphasis,' he added. We have found it useful to get together and it can be a useful advisory group to the committee members, but we will not be lobbying directly.'

The proposed changes at the WSA are due to be ratified at the association's AGM at the end of June, by which time it is hoped the new director general should be in place, according to Paul. The proposed changes include:

* the existing role of director being replaced by a director general with greater responsibilities, including strategy, finance and operations;

* the roles of president, deputy chairman and treasurer, along with several subcommittees such as excise strategy and social issues, being phased out;

* the executive committee being renamed the executive board, with full authority to frame policy;

* the chairman having more responsibility for strategy.