Blog: Around the world without leaving London
Olly Wehring | 13 October 2006
Well, I’ve had a hell of a week this week - it’s been non-stop and it’s only now, late on Friday night, that I’ve found the time to bore you with my adventures.
Monday evening found me down at Vintners’ Hall in London, for the annual lecture held by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. Guest speaker this year was Christopher Carson, the former CEO of Constellation Europe and current chair of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. Carson always makes for good comment, and this time was no exception as he warned the alcohol drinks industry of the dangers of not working together to deal with social responsibility. The alternative to dealing with the situation ourselves, Carson warned, was pretty unpalatable. Heavy-handed government legislation, akin to the type meted out to the tobacco industry, could make things very unpleasant, he said. “We are in their sights,” he warned. “As an industry, we have to get on the front foot and take the message to the people.”
No let-up on Tuesday, with a quick visit to the South African wine tasting at Lord’s cricket ground. A most civilised chat followed, sitting in front of the Nursery Ground with Gary Greenfield, MD of Distell Europe. While Greenfield conceded that the part played by Constellation’s Kumala wine brand may be overshadowing the South African wine sector in the UK market, he remains determined to bring what he called “a little bit of heritage” to the South African offering abroad.
A hop, skip and a jump to south London for a cider tasting in the evening held by the Chevallier Guild brothers, the driving force behind Aspall apple juice and cider makers. Not knocking the cider, but I found the apple juice to be somewhat addictive - it actually tasted of apple. A charming evening with pleasant company ensued. Barry Chevalier Guild would not badmouth Magners for their stranglehold on the UK cider market of late, choosing instead to praise them highly for reintroducing cider to the masses - what he referred to as “the Magners effect”. The fight starts now, however, he warned. “They’ve given us a great opportunity,” he said. “Now it’s up to us to shout about what we actually do.” Cider’s days as the drink of tramps, wurzels and students were over, he laughed, and Magners played a huge part in that.
Wednesday was a relative day of rest, before Thursday exploded in my lap. To the Russian embassy in the morning to collect my visa-minted passport: I’m off to Moscow and then Kiev on Sunday with InBev. Having been to Russia before, I’m prepared for the queuing although the embassy was a dull reminder.
Then to Fleet Street for Diageo’s Asia and China seminar. On paper, the six-hour marathon looked like it would be a struggle, but the opportunity to meet and quiz the likes of Stuart Fletcher (president of Diageo International), John Pollaers (MD for Asia) and Ken Macpherson (MD for Greater China) was too good an opportunity to miss. Macpherson’s view of China bursting with possibility is one close to my heart. On leaving Beijing in 2003 after working there for four months, my then boss said: “If you ever get the chance to come back, then do, ‘cos this place is set to explode.” By the sound of Macpherson’s presentation, that explosion has started.
Wonder if the paymasters would let me work from Beijing…
Greetings from Zurich. Here as a guest of Heineken's Amstel brand, I'm due to sit down later today with the group's senior global director for international brands, Walter Drenth....
Drinks companies spend a lot of money on trying to predict trends. At last night's Worshipful Company of Distillers City debate, any strategists in the audience got a bit of forecasting for free....
I'll admit to being partial to an Aperol Spritz now and again, more usually in the summer months, sitting outside, shades on, slowly turning more golden/rusty....
Jim Cramer, the excitable host of stock-picker programme Mad Money on CNBC, turned his attention on US brewers last week, attempting to forecast which has the most potential for investors....
- The category today - Scotch Whisky I
- Protein interest offers drinks opportunities - NPD
- Boom time for soft drinks in West Europe?
- Patron's lesson for the broader spirits sector
- Today's Market Trends - Scotch Whisky II
- Analysts clash over AB InBev SAB Brexit impact
- Pernod switches Travel Retail Europe op's director
- AB InBev unveils Stella Artois three-packs
- Rum "yet to maximise" GTR potential - Bacardi
- Leelex to open Portobello Road gin distillery
- Global Scotch whisky insights - market forecasts, product innovation and consumer trends
- Global travel retail insights - market forecasts, product innovation and consumer trends
- Global RTD insights - market forecasts, product innovation and consumer trends
- Keurig Green Mountain in Hot Drinks (World)
- Global non-Scotch whiskies insights - market forecasts, product innovation and consumer trends