London International Wine Fair to welcome "plenty of new faces" - organisers

London International Wine Fair to welcome "plenty of new faces" - organisers

Constellation Wines Australia & Europe and E&J Gallo Winery will again stay away from the London International Wine Fair (LIWF) this year, although organisers have highlighted several new arrivals.

Constellation and Gallo, which account for several of the UK's leading wine brands, including Hardys and Gallo Family Vineyards, will not exhibit at this year's show. It is the second year running that both companies have not participated in LIWF, although executives of the companies are expected to attend the show as visitors.

Their decision not to attend as exhibitors will raise further questions about the fragility of the UK wine market, amid a cocktail of tough trading conditions. Both Gallo and Constellation, which is soon to be renamed Accolade Wines under new private equity owner Champ, will exhibit at the Prowein wine show in Germany, which begins next week.

Speaking to just-drinks today (24 March), Constellation's commercial general manager for Europe, James Lousada, said: “Following an internal review, and as part of the ongoing transition from Constellation Wines to Accolade Wines, we have decided not to participate in this year’s London International Wine Fair."

“This decision is not a reflection on the quality of the fair and we have not ruled out the possibility of being involved with it again in future years," he said. "The UK wine market remains key to the business and we are committed to maintaining, growing and driving profitability in the UK and will continue our presence at UK retailer roadshows and customer events.”

The UK accounts for 56% of Constellation Wines Australia & Europe's annual volume sales, or 21m cases of wine. Mainland Europe, meanwhile, accounts for only 8% of the group's annual volumes.

LIWF's marketing director, Will Broadfoot, told just-drinks: "We'd love to see them back on the show floor, but both Constellation and Gallo have undergone significant change over the last 12 months, and that will without doubt affect their strategic goals.

"It's important to remember that companies dip in and out of trade events all the time, depending on what they are trying to achieve, and so our challenge is to deliver an opportunity in 2012 that will exceed their expectations."

Some of the UK's other wine heavyweights still intend to exhibit at this year's show, including Pernod Ricard, Foster's Group's Treasury Wine Estates and Diageo's wine subsidiary, Percy Fox & Co.

Broadfoot added that this year's LIWF will include "plenty of new faces". These include the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, which will be presenting around 80 of the top Bordeaux chateaux for the first time in LIWF's 31-year history.

LIWF takes place from 17 to 19 May.