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Looking ahead: Simon Doyle, Concha y Toro

Published:  03 January, 2019

Once again we are catching up with the trade to find out how businesses made the most of the all-important Christmas trading period, while also looking ahead to the challenges and opportunities 2019 will bring.

Our series continues with insights from Simon Doyle, UK general manager at Chilean heavyweight Concha y Toro.

Would you say that the trade is in a stronger or weaker place now than at the same time last year, and why?

Despite the uncertainty of Brexit, from a brand owner’s perspective I think we are in a stronger place. Whilst consumers are drinking less, they are drinking better and more prepared to pay a little more if they are given good reasons to. The wider trade has seen major change over the last year, with significant mergers/consolidation alongside the collapses of Conviviality following the collapse of P&H. There will be more change to come and it is up to all in the trade to adapt ourselves accordingly and ensure we keep our focus on consumers.

What were the highs and lows for your own business in 2018?

We launched two major new marketing partnerships – Trivento with the Discovery Channel, and Cono Sur with Food Network. We’re already seeing some very positive response to these partnerships in sales and in household penetration. We launched a number of new wines including 1000 Stories bourbon barrel-aged Zinfandel, and it was great to have 1000 Stories winemaker Bob Blue here recently to talk about the process and why it is proving such popular wine. We continue to focus on our customer partnerships and making sure our wines add value to the wine category. Anticipating potential impacts of Brexit remains a challenge.

What were the most significant trends in the drinks world that occurred in 2018?

The premium rosé explosion has demonstrated what can happen when consumers are engaged. We also saw the emergence of new blend reds, wines with distinctive barrel influence and infused/aromatised flavours. All designed to attract new consumers by learning from the successes of the wider drinks category.

What drinks trends do you predict will emerge or become more firmly established in 2019?

As above, more innovation is needed in packaging, formats, flavours and styles to ensure wine remains relevant and engaging. Our own NPD team are hard at work on new launches for next year.

What are likely to be the biggest opportunities for the trade in 2019?

Recruiting more consumers into the wine category and giving them reasons to spend more. We will only achieve this if we make it more engaging and relevant to key occasions.

What will be the biggest challenges facing the trade in 2019?

The uncertainty of Brexit – how it impacts trade, logistics, exchange rates etc. This combined with discriminatory increases in excise duty could combine to eliminate much of the great work done to improve supply efficiencies.

Who are the people, companies or sectors to watch in 2019?

Some of our close competitors continue to show great energy and growth and we expect to see more developments from some of the younger innovative businesses coming on to the scene.

What, for you, would make for a perfect Christmas?

A resolution to the government’s woes and a bit of time out.