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Spotlight on 2020: David Gleave, Liberty Wines

Published:  16 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 David Gleave, MD, Liberty Wines

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

The high point was the way in which our business grew and developed. We have had a very strong year, and continue to enjoy double-digit growth on last year. The low has been the on-going idiocy over Brexit and the uncertainty it has created.

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

The most positive trend has been our ability to sell increasingly esoteric wines as long as they embody the high degree of authenticity the customers are looking for. We also saw a continued move to quality, regardless of price. For instance, our sales of Barolo have grown dramatically, across all our producers.

3. What Brexit outcome would you prefer to see?

I would prefer a second referendum. The country is hopelessly divided and whoever wins the election won’t be able to bridge that divide as neither has the integrity or humility to do so. The only way of bridging this divide is to ask people to vote again on something much more specific, and on something about which they now know much more. I fear, however, this won’t happen and that we will leave. It won’t affect me as I am now in my 60s. But all the young people I work with will not enjoy the beneficent environment in future that I have worked in for the past 37 years.

4. What trends do you predict for 2020?

We try not to worry about trends. We focus on what we think is best for our customers and our producers and try not to get distracted by the latest passing bandwagon.

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

A continued focus on quality remains the biggest opportunity. People are drinking less, so the majority of consumers our customers deal with seem to want to drink better when they do drink. It is our job to make sure they get value for money when they spend £10, £20 or £50.

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

The economy. It has slowed to 1% annual growth, and is likely to slow further.

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

Christmas at home with my family and quite a few good bottles. And a Crystal Palace win on Boxing Day!

8. New Year's resolution?

Buy as much 2016 Barolo as I can afford!