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Looking ahead: Ade McKeon, Accolade Wines

Published:  29 August, 2019

As the first half of 2019 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 Ade McKeon, regional managing director for Europe, Accolade Wines

How has the first half of 2019 been when compared to the same period in 2018?

Business has been strong in 2019 with a very positive first half which has seen a return to growth of our number one wine brand Hardys, which has grown in value share by 4% year on year. (Nielsen Scantrack data to July 2019).

What were the highs and lows for your own business in the first six months of 2019?

Despite challenging trading conditions, we reported an increase in revenue and gross profit for the financial year ending March 2019 as a result of our focus on improving our product mix. As well as Hardys’ positive performance, we are seeing significant sales increase for our mainstream premium wine portfolio. The range of £6 to £10 wines is up 27.5% YOY in value, driven by the success of Hardys, Mud House and Jam Shed, serving customers well as consumers move to drink quality over quantity (Nielsen Scantrack data to July 2019).

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

Brexit is obviously the major hurdle for many businesses as well as the rising costs of raw materials such as glass, where prices have surged due to shortages.

Will you be preparing in any way for a second potential ‘no deal’ or some deal Brexit day on 31 October and, if so, how?

Like all responsible businesses we’ve been looking into all eventualities to ensure we are as prepared as possible when it comes to navigating the landscape around duty, exchange rate and legislation.

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

We’re looking to go into the second half with an equally strong position, continuing to drive our mainstream premium portfolio and innovate across our leading brand ranges such as Hardys, Echo Falls and Kumala.

What will the focus be on with regard to your portfolio (and any updates) and why?

As consumers become more discerning about their wine choices, our mainstream premium portfolio is coming into its own. The growth is being driven by brands such as Mud House, which is up 32.1% in value as demand for Sauvignon Blanc continues, and Jam Shed which has seen 135.7% value growth as demand for sweeter red wines increases.

For you, what are the most significant emerging trends in the drinks world?

It’s an exciting time in drinks and we are seeing huge success in “blurring the categories” with our much-loved Echo Falls wine brand. Our Echo Falls Summer Berries Vodka is the number one flavoured vodka in Tesco in terms of both volume and value and off the back of this success we have moved further into spirits with Echo Falls Pink Gin, and a range of spirits and wine blends or “spines” - Echo Falls Rosé Wine & Gin fusion and Echo Falls White Wine & Coconut Rum, which have been very well received by consumers.

What innovations in the drinks world do you believe will have the most impact going forward?

Sustainability throughout the supply chain is essential for innovative and responsible businesses. At Accolade Park, which is Europe’s largest wine warehouse and distribution centre, we have installed a new 2.5MW wind turbine, transferring over 50% of our energy consumption to wind power, a landmark move which we are very proud of.

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

As a Scotsman I can’t profess to be a cricket expert, but I’ll get the greatest pleasure out of watching the Ashes series with a glass of Hardys in hand and enjoying a great rivalry unfold.