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Angela Mount's call for education

Published:  23 January, 2009

2009 brings with it some of the greatest challenges the wine industry has ever faced. Recession, duty rises, sterling's continued fall against most currencies, proposed legislative plans, fewer routes to market, smaller ranges, redundancies ... the list goes on.

Doom and gloom have set in before the year has got into its stride, yet several retailers are reporting sales growth over the festive period and I sense a strong fighting spirit across the trade.
These apocalyptic times highlight the need to understand the realities of today's market, and focus on how to pull the category back into shape and growth. Yes, it will boil down to survival of the fittest, in all sectors, and there will inevitably be considerable fallout. My personal battle over the last year has taught me the true value of both the fighting and optimistic spirit, but also the need to address fundamental issues straight up, and look for solutions.

Despite the decline in wine sales over the last six months, this is still a massive sector, worth more than 130 million cases and, in many respects, this makes it more exciting because the challenges are tougher.

Who will succeed, who will fail? How will businesses grow their sales profitably, at a time when pressure on retail prices grows ever stronger? Those that flourish will be the distributors and brand owners who hone their skills and work in conjunction with the gatekeepers to the consumers.

The WSET is launching the first business and commercial awareness and education course later this year. The two-day course has been developed because due to an overriding feeling within our industry that there is not a broad understanding of the complexities of the market sector in which we trade.

In these tough trading conditions, those who succeed will be the companies which equip their teams with the business acumen needed to work alongside their customers.
The need for this course has never been greater. It will give those attending the opportunity to gain more rounded commercial awareness and will also give them the chance to assess where the opportunities and future lie within their chosen market sector.

Angela Mount is co-director of
Mount & Paul Wine Industry Solutions