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Looking Ahead: Matt Tipping, commercial director, Jeroboams

Published:  28 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 Matt Tipping, commercial director, Jeroboams

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

Our two new shops in Kensington High Street and Muswell Hill, opened in May and October 2018 respectively, continue to grow. We are working harder than ever within our local communities; the results of those efforts are that our retail division is continuing to show like for like growth. Away from the High Street, the additional volumes of Burgundy in January, and the quality of the 2018 Bordeaux vintage, have given us a bumper start to 2019.

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

Highs: En primeur campaigns, our sell out summer tasting with over 300 customers in attendance.

Lows: Weakening pound.

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

The weaker pound and recent fluctuations in currency mean that forward currency planning is tricky—if the Euro stays at these levels it is likely to lead to further price inflation. The pressures on the restaurant trade mean that there is a fine line to be found between supporting your partners and avoiding bad debt issues.

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?

We have brought forward some purchasing of our core lines and we have ensured we have the correct paperwork should a no deal exit happen. We are working with our staff to support them should they need to apply for settled status.

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 have refreshed our recruitment and induction/training programmes to ensure that we continue to attract the best staff in the industry. Christmas stock will be with us in October, so the Brexit question won’t impact us at all in that aspect. We are ensuring that our Christmas messaging is upbeat and not too serious, as a potential antidote to any doom and gloom that may be around!

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

Continuing our work with smaller growers making wines that focus on personality and quality. Italy continues to be a focus, with Piedmonte having room for further growth in depth. We are continuing to build our range of beer to sit alongside our wines in store, focussing on adding lower alcohol offerings to compliment the ever-popular full throttle styles (such as NEIPA and DIPAs).

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

Lower alcohol options. The widening demand for vegan/vegetarian and organic wines, which have obviously been key factors for many years now, but now seem to be even more prominently requested, perhaps following the trends seen in food.

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

The increasing number of publications offering data feeds are likely to have a big impact in the present and near future, as they allow smaller businesses to compete with the big boys and offer their customers and staff up to the minute information on wines.

The innovative approaches to creating an in-store experience in the independent sector are likely to mean that the coming years will offer consumers who are lucky enough to live near to an independent merchant new benchmarks in accessibility, knowledge and enjoyment.

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

A Jeroboams office in the South of France! Failing that alternating sunshine and thunderstorms: i.e., no drizzle and temps of 25-27 degrees (no higher otherwise I melt!). An Ashes win. Plenty of time spent on the bank of a lake. Unlimited Riesling Kabinet.