The owner of Santa Rita has created a new role of corporate commercial director at the Chilean wine group as it looks to boost its presence in ten key export markets.

Chilean conglomerate The Claro Group has appointed Richard Leaver to the role. Leaver joins Santa Rita from Beam Global Spirits & Wine. He has also worked for Australian wine producer Southcorp, now part of Foster's Group.

Leaver (pictured) told just-drinks that Santa Rita, which owns wine brands including Carmen, Terra Andina and its namesake label, is focusing its efforts on the UK and Ireland.

Santa Rita sells the two best-selling Chilean wines in Ireland, Leaver said, thanks to some "excellent distribution". In the UK, Leaver said using three separate distributors for different brands has not helped the company's fortunes.

"The distributors have done a good job but the UK market is tough," Leaver said. "Recently, the dialogue I've had with key contacts in the off-trade is that we would benefit from talking across those brands."

However, Leaver declined to comment on whether Santa Rita would look to change distributors in the UK. "We will be working on a five-year plan and the key is to be really clear directionally; which channels shall we target, which wines fit in which channels, where we are in terms of price points, things like that."

Leaver said Santa Rita would look to be "fit to compete" in the UK market. He added: "If you look at our competitors, some of them have done an excellent job in terms of marketing, on price points and in offering a portfolio solution to their key customers. We need to learn from that."

Santa Rita, which controls almost 4,500 hectares of vineyards in Chile and Argentina, is Chile's third-largest wine producer.