On-Trade Business Person of the Year 2007

underdogs2Will Beckett & Huw Gott

School friends Huw Gott and Will Beckett arrived on the on-trade scene in 2003 with the opening of their first venue, The Redchurch, in London’s Shoreditch. Developing and managing the site (which had previously been a fried chicken shop) proved to be a formative experience for the duo, teaching them valuable lessons in on-trade know-how.

They have since gone on to launch three of the most talked about venues in London. Specialist Tequila bar Green & Red opened in November 2005 and went on to win numerous accolades, including Evening Standard Bar of the Year 2006, as well as being voted one of the top ten bars in the UK by Elle magazine.

Last year the energectic duo successfully tackled a double launch, opening both The Marquess Tavern, voted Time Out Gastropub of the Year 2006, and the Hawksmoor, an innnovative cocktail bar and steakhouse. They also formed the Underdog Consultancy, aimed at giving first-time bar owners the benefit of their on-trade experience and contacts. 

Beckett and Gott have developed a unique on-trade management style, complementing each other’s particular strengths in front and back of house. Their close working relationship prompted judges to give them a joint award, as both personalities are equally integral to the success of their business.

Judges were impressed by the evident passion and enthusiasm which Beckett and Gott have for the on-trade, not to mention the string of awards to their names. “Everything they’ve launched has succeeded,” said one judge. “They’ve clearly achieved enough success in the past year to merit this award.”

THE SHORTLIST 2007

Stephen Brogan – Waverley TBS
As sales director for the national on-trade division at WaverleyTBS, Stephen Brogan has made a significant contribution to developing the company’s business and, in turn, the on-trade venues it supplies. During 2006 Brogan oversaw the targeted acquisition of two regional wholesale businesses – Cellar Wines Direct and Everard’s Freetrade – which improved the geographical reach of WaverleyTBS and grew its company profitability by over £1 million. Brogan’s team has developed a category management approach for the individual on-trade venues it supplies, helping to grow average spend on wine at outlets such as Pizza Express.

Alan Montague-Dennis – Mentzendorff
Alan Montague-Dennis joined Mentzendorff as prestige business manager in 2005, with the objective of developing a focused London on-trade business alongside the company’s wholesaler network. His challenge was to re-establish Mentzendorff’s credentials in a fast-paced and competitive on-trade market. Over the following two years he secured a number of new strategic accounts including Le Gavroche, Nobu, Tom Aikens and the Gordon Ramsay Group. During 2006 Montague-Dennis focused on developing the Ayala Champagne brand, gaining house Champagne contracts at Chez Bruce and the Garrick Club among others.

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