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Spotlight on 2020: Simon Doyle, Concha y Toro UK

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 Simon Doyle, general manager, Concha y Toro UK

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

The continued success of our leading brands Casillero del Diablo, Trivento, Cono Sur and the launch of brands such as Diablo and O’jos, which both appeal to different consumer needs.

Lows were the uncertainties caused by Brexit and the need to carry so much additional inventory in anticipation. The wine industry operates on relatively low margins that require operational efficiency, so to have this undermined by forces outside of our control is frustrating for everyone.

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

Outside of Brexit, the trend of premium ‘statement’ brands has continued, with brands like Apothic, 19 Crimes and now our own Diablo becoming well established with very significant growth. These are welcome additions to the category as they help to bring wine to a new audience.

3. What Brexit outcome would you prefer to see?

An open trading relationship with the EU, free of as much bureaucracy as possible. In a world of consolidating and very powerful trading blocs, collective negotiating power is more relevant than ever, so we need to make sure we are as aligned as possible with our biggest and closest trading partners.

4. What trends do you predict for 2020?

We expect to see the continued growth of premium ‘statement’ brands. We continue to work hard at creating new occasions for consumers to enjoy wine, for example, chilled Pinot Noir in the summer.

It will also be interesting to watch how the canned category (wines and wine spritz) evolves as the wine industry seeks to stem the volume decline we see to likes of gin, fruit ciders and pre-mixed spirits. This is especially important amongst younger adult consumers.

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

The industry needs to be alert to rapidly changing consumer behaviours and continue to better understand their needs. The wine industry has come a long way in this regard, but we have a lot more to learn and do if we are to take advantages of the many potential opportunities.

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

Government alcohol and tax policy. Wine has had an unfair rap over a long period and continues to face many threats. Leading wine companies (such as Treasury Wine Estates and ourselves) are seeking to play a more proactive role in supporting initiatives such as Wine Drinkers UK. The industry needs to unite behind this common challenge to better inform policy makers and raise greater awareness among consumers about how unfairly the UK’s favourite alcoholic drink is taxed.

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

Looking forward to seeing how Majestic develops. It feels like they are recovering their mojo and it is healthy for there to be a strong national specialist player. It’s encouraging to see so many key retailers seeking to better understand their shoppers’ needs and to develop and implement their plans accordingly.

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

A bit more exercise to make way for increased consumption. And for the UK electorate to come to its senses and see through the liars and charlatans!

9. New Year’s resolution?

I became a pescatarian last New Year, so will see if I can keep that one up for another year.