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Looking ahead: Troy Christensen, Enotria & Coe

Published:  30 July, 2018

As the first half of 2018 draws to a close, Harpers asked key trade figures to highlight the current challenges, ongoing trends and opportunities

We continue our series with insights from Troy Christensen, CEO, Enotria & Coe

How has the first half of 2018 been when compared to the same period in 2017?

Wine has had a tough go, Q1 impacted by the growing dry January and February and March was negatively impacted by the weather. Then the WWW (weather, world cup, wedding) has been helpful to the overall trade, but wet-led and beer more than wine. So, although the trade may be flat, there is a mix towards wet-led and away from restaurants, which isn’t a good trend for wine.

What, currently, are the biggest challenges for the trade (excluding Brexit)?

Delivery service and social media are driving the on-trade. People are opting for delivery at many casual dining fasciae, and only go out when there is the experience that can be instagrammable. The whole on-trade must deal with this dynamic as you see the continued carnage in the casual dining sector. This trend is positive for cocktails / spirits, but wine still has a challenge to find its position in this new market dynamic (outside of the obvious growth in prosecco).

And challenges that are Brexit-related?

Currency weakness is causing inflation, not only in wine, but food which further hits the struggling casual dining sector. But, the general uncertainty is negatively impacting consumer confidence and weighing on the minds of International suppliers who may prioritise investment in other markets until a clear path has been identified. There is a clear lack of political leadership and vision that is exacerbating this issue, as the underlying economy is still stable, but much investment is sitting on the side-line until a clear path is evident.

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?

We are working with our customers who feel pressure to downgrade the wine offering to find some margin, as this strategy is counterproductive. Consumers are only willing to spend when there is a compelling experience, so value engineering the wine and spirits list will turn away the consumer, not drop a bit of margin to the bottom line.

And where do the opportunities lie?

It is all about the experience, so it is about activation of the account in order to engage the consumer.

How optimistic are you ¬ will business for the drinks trade be better or worse between now and 1 Jan 2019 compared with last year and why?

After the summer and world cup, the trade will revert back to a more balanced restaurant / wet-led position for H2, but we are forecasting the trade to still be fairly flat and still some correction in the casual dining trade to deal with surplus capacity that has been built over the past few years.