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Spotlight on 2020: Mark Roberts, Lanchester 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 Mark Roberts, director of sales, Lanchester Wines.

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

Let’s start with the ‘lows’, which I guess will be the same for everyone reading this – the spectre of Brexit and the uncertainty its created around the trade, and indeed business in general.

While Brexit and whatever it brings may be out of our control, we have worked hard behind the scenes to bolster our personnel, our buying power and our resources. Which brings me to my ‘high’ of 2019 – our team.

Our buying team is excelling in its quest to consistently discover outstanding wines and our sales team has never been stronger. While no one can predict what effect the UK’s ever-changing political climate will have on business, we can look to the future in the knowledge that our company is strong, our wine offering is excellent and our team is outstanding.

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

Sidestepping Brexit, undoubtedly the biggest positive focus over the last 12 months is sustainability and rightly so. All the major retailers – indeed major business in any sector – have greater awareness of their carbon footprint.

Importantly, it is now commercially viable to be sustainably conscious. Sustainability is almost a moot point now, part of a bigger picture of what we are all trying to achieve. A business without a sustainability programme now stands out, but for all the wrong reasons.

And, this is affecting how we purchase goods with business and consumers alike looking at both the carbon footprint of every product and its packaging. We’ve seen this in the wine trade specifically with the emergence of wine in cans, a trend guaranteed to escalate into 2020 and beyond.

3. What Brexit outcome would you prefer to see?

A quick one!

4. What trends do you predict for 2020?

The global awareness of sustainability is not going anywhere, and nor should it. Aside from our own efforts to reduce our business’s carbon footprint through generating our own renewable energy, we’re working closely with our supply chain, including logistics, wineries etc, to make sure their own sustainability programmes are relevant and credible.

Essentially, we’re extending our values to our suppliers and ensuring they comply which in-turn creates a trickle effect with our suppliers’ suppliers, their suppliers and so on. There’s now an inevitability to it all, sustainability as a core business principle IS happening and nothing will change that.

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

Working collaboratively to drive more value into the wine trade. Which will inevitably benefit us all.

2020 will also bring wine in cans firmly into the mainstream. While the can format is already popular, particularly in the multiples, the next 12 months and beyond will see the category explode across all other outlets and into the on-trade. The can is a format consumers are already familiar with through soft drinks and craft beer, they’re now increasingly comfortable seeing wine in cans.

Our sister company, Greencroft Bottling, has installed the UK’s first wine canning line and we know other wine packers are looking at canning lines, making the can format even more accessible.

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

The fallout of Brexit and the uncertainty it creates.

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


8. New Year's resolution?

Try more Greek wine.