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Spotlight on 2020: Andrew Bewes, Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Published:  11 December, 2019

As we prepare for the new decade, Harpers will be taking the month of December to look back over 2019 and ahead to what the coming year will bring – hopefully full of revived optimism for both politics and the trade.

Here, we continue our winter series of reflections, predictions and views with Andrew Bewes, MD at Hallgarten & Novum Wines

1. What were the highs and lows for you and your business in 2019?

The highs for us has been driving growth in business despite the adverse trading conditions, retaining our Investors in People accreditation for another year and building upon our ISO 14001 accreditation by pushing initiatives to further reduce our impact upon the environment. The low has undoubtedly been the ongoing uncertainty caused by Brexit and political and economic stagnation. We cannot underestimate the effect this has had on both our industry and the businesses we serve.

2. What were the most significant issues and trends that occurred in 2019?

Outside the B-word, the continued decline in wine consumption contrasted by the continued meteoric rise in sales of some spirits, most notably gin, encapsulate the challenges that the wine industry has faced this year. Despite the seemingly attractive natural benefits of provenance and ‘a story’ behind every quality wine, as things stand, collectively we are not generating enough of an ‘experience’ for the average consumer to grasp and understand. We need to do better.

3. What Brexit outcome would you prefer to see?

We simply need some certainty to allow us all to move forward, whether in or out of the EU.

4. What trends do you predict for 2020?

More of the same from many perspectives, dominated by the need for resolution of the Brexit issue. Until this is resolved, and we adjust to whatever the new ‘norm’ is, we and our customers face operating under continued commercial and economic pressures.

More generally, I expect to see a growing consumer understanding of, and demand for, wines which are produced and packaged in the most sustainable way possible. Closer to home, we will all be under an increasing moral and commercial obligation to genuinely consider and reduce the impact our business has on the environment. There’s no dodging this one – sustainability will continue to be the focus of many businesses in the year ahead.

5. What are likely to be the biggest opportunities for the trade in 2020?

Making real progress in driving the environmental agenda, from embracing and promoting innovation in packaging through to day-to-day micro-decisions on the cars that we drive and the way in which we conduct our business.

6. What are the biggest challenges facing the trade in 2020?

Continued uncertainty – this boils down once again to getting a resolution on Brexit – is the greatest threat for me as this is dramatically affecting inward investment and consumer confidence. Further delay on this fundamental issue is the least attractive option for our business. Aside from this, we need to rise to the challenge of making wine consumption more ‘experiential’ if we are to challenge the burgeoning spirits industry. The consumer has demonstrated that he/she is willing to part with significant sums of money for a gin and tonic, so why not the same for a glass of wine?

7. Who are the people, companies or retailers to watch in 2020?

I would have to say Hallgarten Wines and my team of talented people all dedicated to providing the best possible wines and service to our customers.

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

A lucrative and smooth festive period for all our partners! More seriously, family, friends, great food and great wine make the perfect Christmas.

9. New Year's resolution?

I don’t make New Year resolutions, but if I did, I would endeavour to ensure our customers and partners have a prosperous 2020 and we continue to expand our service offering.