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Looking ahead to the Christmas run-up: Craig Durham, MD, Buckingham Schenk

Published:  09 August, 2017

The autumn tasting season will be upon us before we know it, as merchants and wholesalers prepare for the all important Christmas trading period.

Throughout August, Harpers will be running a web series which will include interviews with some of leading voices in the trade, and find out what trends and challenges they’re expecting to face in the latter half of 2017.

We begin our series with Buckingham Schenk MD Craig Durham, who talks climate woes and playing to the company’s strengths.

How has the first half of 2017 compared to 2016?

Like much of the UK wine trade, there are obviously challenges during this period of Brexit uncertainty but these are being overcome with the support of the Schenk Group behind us and by us keeping to our clear strategy for future growth.

Taking current trading conditions into account, what’s your strategy for the second half of the year, through autumn and leading up to Christmas?

Despite the current climate we have gained three new retail listings for Viñalba in recent months and we will be focusing on Argentina for the autumn as Viñalba celebrates its 10th birthday.

Our pop-up in Shoreditch is being opened to celebrate the anniversary and will be used to introduce both Viñalba and our on-trade brand Phebus to potential new customers. We are also holding a series of themed tastings to give greater understanding to both consumers and the trade.

For Christmas we will also be launching new wines on the back of our Italian and Spanish strengths.

What will be your main focus during for the rest of the year?

Our number one focus during this time will of course be our customers and ensuring they we deliver what they need for the Christmas period. A significant part of this will obviously be Prosecco and our Viñalba brand. We are also looking to develop gifting opportunities across a range of products.

Are there any specific challenges that you’re planning for?

With the reports of difficult vintages ahead from many of our key countries of supply and the obvious economic challenges we are all facing it is very difficult to plan for every eventuality. However, we are ready, willing and able, so bring it on!

What about trends?

We think Italy will continue to grow in popularity, particularly indigenous varieties, and there will be an increased demand for other sparkling wines as consumers broaden their knowledge of this category.

Based on any early indications, what can the trade can expect from this year's Christmas trading period?

It is difficult to tell at this stage. But we know we have the wines and the offering to get consumers engaged, combined with the range and service needed to ensure our customers get what they want when they want it.