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Lay & Wheeler announces key appointments

Published:  25 June, 2024

Lay & Wheeler, a prominent fine wine merchant under the Coterie Holdings umbrella, has announced a series of significant appointments to strengthen its management and buying teams, aligning with its long-term growth strategy.

James Kowszun (pictured left) has been appointed as MD. Kowszun, currently the COO of Coterie Holdings, will lead the implementation of the company’s strategy. He brings extensive experience from his previous role as group finance director at Bibendum and group MD at Leathams.

In addition, Lay & Wheeler has named Alice Cave as sales director. Cave, who joined the company in September 2020 from Berry Bros. & Rudd, was promoted to head of private client sales in May 2022. In her new role, she will oversee global sales efforts, focusing on high-net-worth clients.

Catherine Jaën MW, a wine buyer at Lay & Wheeler since January 2020, has been promoted to buying director. Jaën will expand her oversight to include regions such as Spain, Portugal, North and South America, Australia, New Zealand and spirits.

Robert Mathias MW, the world’s youngest Master of Wine as of February 2024, has joined the team as a senior wine buyer. Mathias previously held positions at Bordeaux Index and Bibendum.

Further bolstering the buying team, Jemma Grant has been promoted to wine buyer. Grant, an expert in wines from classic regions and a specialist in English wines has been with the company for over three years.

The buying team will report to Andrew Shaw (right), wine director at Coterie Holdings. Shaw, an industry veteran who joined Coterie in March 2024 from Marks & Spencer, brings a wealth of experience from his previous tenure at Bibendum.

Michael Saunders, CEO of Coterie Holdings, expressed his enthusiasm for the new appointments: “I’m delighted to welcome the new appointments to our management team. Their knowledge and expertise in premium fine wines will reinforce Lay & Wheeler’s leading credentials in delivering exceptional experiences to our customers around the globe.”

This strategic move is another significant step for Coterie, which has rapidly expanded since it acquired Lay & Wheeler from Naked Wines in 2019. The group has also secured several high-profile acquisitions, including Hallgarten & Novum Wines at the end of last year and the appointment of Michael Saunders as CEO.

Coterie Holdings was incorporated last year to act as the holding company for fine wine merchant Lay & Wheeler and specialist wine importer and distributor Hallgarten & Novum Wines. Both of these entities are part of a diverse portfolio that includes the bonded storage facility Coterie Vaults and the wine lending business Jera.