Speaking ahead of next week’s Australia Day trade tasting in London – and a year into the job – Yvonne May said that, while the generic message was changing perceptions about the country’s wines, the market remained challenging.
She said: “I think it’s inevitable that we will lose market share.
“There is no imminent sign of the recession lifting and some of the smaller players can’t afford to be here, even if they want to be. The situation isn’t sustainable.
“But I don’t feel threatened by that. I have been in the industry for 30 years and have experienced the boom and bust eras. I believe we are changing perceptions about Australia and we will emerge at the end of the financial crisis as a tighter unit producing world-class wines.
“I’m feeling reflective, but also buoyant. In a year, I’ve made incredible headway and membership is at its highest level for years.
“No matter how hard the UK market is, only 0.2% of the wine it consumes is domestic, so it is always going to be an importing nation. There is a sense of energy and unity and a willingness to pull together to get through what is obviously a challenging time for the trade.”
May has also appointed Emma Harrison, deputy manager of London’s award-winning independent The Sampler, to join her team when Camilla Coste leaves to go travelling in March.
She said: “Emma is just about to embark on her Masters of Wine qualification and shares my strong passion for wine education.
“All her work to date has been in retail and she brings a strong affinity with independents and the world of fine wine.”