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Spotlight on 2020: Damian Clarke, Freixenet Copestick

Published:  16 December, 2019

As we prepare for the new decade, Harpers looks 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 Damian Clarke, MD, Freixenet Copestick

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

The high was undoubtedly the successful creation of Freixenet Copestick through the merger of Freixenet UK and Copestick Murray. Any merger represents a significant change and upheaval for a business, so to have emerged as the UK’s fastest growing major wine business is a great success and a tribute to the team. The low is the disruption caused by three Brexits and the prospect of at least one more to come!

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

An increased environmental awareness, a focus on health and wellbeing and consumers seeking to turn purchases into experiences such as with I Heart personalisation.

3. What Brexit outcome would you prefer to see?

Remain. Whatever your personal views, I cannot see any positives of leaving for the UK wine industry.

4. What trends do you predict for 2020?

An acceleration in the pace of innovation with environmentally conscious products and low/no alcohol leading the way. The continued growth of premium brands in wine sectors such as Prosecco.

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

Maximising our involvement in the trends above. Giving the consumer a reason to trade up by offering wines that are authentic, have a sense of place and offer an element of exploration and discovery. And possibly CBD!

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

The economy: slower growth, weaker pound, rising costs, reduced consumer confidence are all having an effect. Brexit: uncertainty around our future trading relationship with the EU only exacerbates the economic challenges and, finally, the level of duty on wine, which is unfairly harsh compared to other alcoholic drink categories. While beer and spirits have enjoyed duty freezes, wine duty has continued to rise so that more duty is paid on a glass of wine than any other drink.

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

Taking my FXC hat off for a moment, I think English Sparkling Wine will continue its exciting development. There has been a huge increase in planting and production and I hope some strong brands will now emerge to engage with a willing consumer. From a retail perspective, it will be interesting to see what happens next with Majestic wine and in the growth of on-line wine retailers such as Slurp.

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

Family, friends, good food and drink, crisp bright days and an abundance of ‘Buy six, save 25%’. Joking!

9. New Year’s resolution?

Try something new, go somewhere new, take more exercise!