California is a hugely missed opportunity. We've just signed a deal with 585 Wine Partners of Sonoma to promote and distribute Red Truck, Picket Fence and Steelhead - our first Californian wine brands. South America and Spain are also looking promising. We want to do more with Chile. I'm not sure that one company [Concha
& Toro] should have such a huge share of the category.
As an industry, we're absolutely crap at talking to the consumer. We are in the business of increasing consumption so why aren't we taking it more seriously? Why are people happy to spend £3 on a pint in their local boozer but then think £3.99 on a bottle of wine is a struggle? I'd like to see the big brand owners taking a lead on consumer research and sharing that with the rest of the trade.
Prices will stay low
alcohol duty will go up between 4p and 10p a bottle in this month's Budget. Putting it up a bit will be seen as popular with the public, but if it's too much then people will start grumbling. Competition in the market will keep prices low, though.
More companies will fold
Things are going to get tougher for the trade this year. I would expect five to 10 wine companies to go bust. We think there will be more consolidation and some fairly hefty purchases. Is Constellation going to buy someone big in France? The key thing will be to carry on offering quality at a fair price, or consumers will notice.
We're looking to buy
Our founder Thierry Cabanne died in a car accident last September
and the ownership transferred to five directors. We are now seeking
new acquisition targets. We will buy something, but it has to be a good fit.
People have asked us if we'd sell the business. If someone came in with a huge amount of money we'd have to seriously think about it. But no one's going to do that because we're doing what we love doing and why would we want to change that?
More information at thierrys.co.uk.