Distribution “most important” issue for wine trade

“Distribution is the most important thing for the future”, according to Miguel Torres Maczassek as he prepares to succeed his father as general manager of Bodegas Torres.

Although keen to emphasise that there would be “no dramatic change” within the family business as a result of this transition to the next generation, Torres Maczassek emphasised the ongoing importance for the business of improving its distribution networks in key markets.

The company already operates its own distribution firm in China, where it also represents other family-owned producers such as Symington Family Estates, Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Joseph Drouhin, as well as a distribution business in Brazil, another rapidly emerging wine market.

Nevertheless, Torres Maczassek maintained: “If we can find a good distributor with our importers then we prefer they manage the brand, but in certain markets it’s hard to find good distribution. What is key for the wine industry is that distribution will be the most important thing in the future.”

It is a view shared by Concha Y Toro, whose deputy communications manager Bianca Bustamante reported: “We have been investing a lot in terms of our distribution network.”

From the opening of its own UK office in 2001, the company has since established bases in Scandinavia, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Canada, Singapore and, following last year’s acquisition of Fetzer, the US.

Although some of these offices, such as those in Canada and South Africa, have a commercial rather than distribution focus, Bustamante remarked: “These still help distributors in the marketing of our products.”

In particular, she linked this investment in local offices to the company’s premium shift, a strategy shared by many of Chile’s major exporters. “You need a different relationship to push a premium strategy and have to talk to all the sommeliers,” explained Bustamante. “It’s best to have our own executives there as a good connection point between the team here [in Chile] and the distributor.”

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