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Looking ahead: Michael Patterson, D&D London

Published:  25 August, 2017

With the autumn tasting season soon upon us, as the trade prepares for the run up to the all-important Christmas trading period, Harpers is running a web series asking leading voices in the trade what trends and challenges they’re expecting to face in the latter half of 2017.

We continue with Michael Patterson, group category manager, D&D London

What, currently, are the biggest challenges for the trade?

The biggest challenge in my role is still cost price (heavily affected by currency, production and global politics). Trying to get the right product at the best price is becoming more time consuming and harder than ever.

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

On the buying side, the strategy is to continue to develop the portfolio and streamline where necessary. And to make sure we are working with the right partners and taking advantage of any commercial power we have.

Where do the opportunities lie?

Some of these exist in sourcing new products that want to get a foothold in the market and others exist in further developing current partners and brands. Spirits is very much a big area where this strategy is working.

Specifically, what will the focus be on with regard to your portfolio?

With wine, the focus is on more concise lists and meeting ‘what the customer wants’, relying on some well known varieties which are strong in the market (New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Argentine Malbec, Rioja, etc.), but also focusing on new wines or alternatives and ensuring that the wine lists are still interesting and individual.

On spirits the focus is taking the work we have done to develop the portfolio over the last six months and driving this forward to convert to sales. Also to limit further changes and work with what we have now.

On beer, craft is still at the top of the pile, but this isn’t a major area for our business so doesn’t get as much attention.

How optimistic are you – will business for the drinks trade be better or worse between now and 1 Jan 2018 compared with last year?

This year could potentially be worse than the previous year, however I am optimistic that the second half of the year will still be strong. There are so many factors outside of the drinks industry that are currently influencing it that it’s very difficult to forecast and predict. I think the overall economic uncertainty is the main driver for shifts in the market and until this settles it won’t be easy to answer this.