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Broadland’s new hire to drive branded portfolio following Schaafsma exit

Published:  09 April, 2018

Following Paul Schaafsma’s brief tenure as chief executive of Broadland Wineries, new senior brand manager Liz Cobbold is now joining the team to drive the branded portfolio which accounts 50% of sales

Former Accolade CEO Paul Schaafsma’s time helming Broadland Wineries may have been brief but his appointment, which came on the back of a strong history in building and launching brands, set the precedent for the Norwich-based company, which is now focused on growing its stable of owned and co-owned products.

The bottler, distributor and brand owner is now moving on from the stalled Schaafsma partnership with the new appointment of senior brand manager Liz Cobbold, who brings experience from Tesco as a senior buyer and also brewer Adnams, where she was responsible for designing and activating brands.

The appointment comes at a key time for Broadland, not just in the UK but the US where a newly opened office is driving distribution to 23 states.

At home, the company is concentrating on a growing number of highly targeted brands, with single serve MiniVino and NPD Proudly Vegan about to appear on the shelves of “major” multiples.

“Our business through grocery and on-trade multiples has grown significantly over the last two years, and we are now dealing with more of our target businesses," said owner Mark Lansley, who has been re-instated as CEO following Schaafsma’s departure.

“The branded side enables us to create value and be creative. This is where we can truly use our brains and our expertise to eek out the future of the wine trade. We have to make wines that are relevant and exciting for consumers. By delving heavily into unmet needs, we believe we can create brands that are better than those on the shelves at the moment.”

Accounting for 20 million of the company’s annual 40 million bottles, and half of last year’s £60 million turnover, Broadland’s branded portfolio is led by British Wine, Three Mills, followed by Le Soleil and Marlborough’s Waipapa Bay, all of which work closely with Broadland to bring the brands to market.

Others, like MiniVino and Proudly Vegan, are the result of an in-house research and development team which has been on a mission over the past year or so to highlight and respond to key areas of consumer interest.

“We’re looking closely at the consumer base and peoples’ mindsets,” said Lansley. “With something like the Proudly range, I think a Proudly Green label could be on the cards. There’s a real push towards things like the anti-plastic and all sorts of environmental movements at the moment. People don’t want lipservice. They want authenticity and brands who can deliver.”

The company’s in-house team of marketeers and Cobbold coming on board makes the company far removed from the one Lansley rescued from administrators in 2006.

Since then, it has grown to offer branded products, private label as well as distribution for brands such as Filipetti Prosecco, which can’t be packed in the UK for regulation reasons.

Plans to also build up the agency portfolio (wineries looking for bottling and distribution in the UK) marks a further push from purely contract bottling in 2006 to a vertical integration model taking on the role of both agent and distributor.

“There’s not enough margin in going through a bottler and then distributor,” said Lansley, on cutting out the middleman. “What we do is simple: we sell directly to the retailers in the on and off-trade, but because of our strong customer base and research team, we’re able to grow strategically with partners and offer a reliable supply chain. And now we’re building up our branded portfolio, our marketing skills are becoming a real asset, particularly since we’re selling into the US and Europe.”

Plans to develop in the US continue to ruminate.

As well as a state of the art bottling facility near Felixstowe Port in Suffolk, the company is in talks to expand its US operations with Lansley, a former US-based engineer, keen to build a bottling plant stateside in the not too distant future.

“We have two sales people out there and work with 20 distributors across branded and private label. But we need the volume. We don’t have a mature enough distribution presence or sales team yet,” he said.

Photo: Broadland owner and CEO, Mark Lansley