Close Menu

Industry facing skill set shortage

The wine industry is facing a worrying shortage of high quality national account managers, according to Paul Schaafsma, general manager for UK and Europe at Australian Vintage.

Schaafsma has called on the industry to work together to introduce an accredited training programme to help nurture young talent in order to reverse the decline.

Speaking to the drinks business at yesterday’s A+ Australia tasting in London, Schaafsma said: “One of the main challenges in recruiting national account managers at the moment is that there is not a lot of talent out there.

“The industry faces a real shortage of high quality national account managers.

“It comes down to training. I think the industry needs to look at developing a national account manager training programme where buyers, marketeers and producers get together and formulate some sort of accredited training.

“It’s such a unique role. You can take people out of FMCG and bring them into wine and they would have the basic skill sets but they wont necessarily have the wine knowledge.

“Likewise wine people are great for discussing wine but don’t necessarily have the skill sets in terms of managing a business and putting together the right plans.”

Earlier this month Australian Vintage announced the recruitment of Sainsbury’s senior wine buyer Julian Dyer to help develop the off-trade side of its business.

Schaafsma said that Dyer was a perfect fit for the role, due to the fact he will immediately bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role – something that would not be possible with many younger wine industry professionals.

“It’s not that there’s a shortage of young professionals in the wine industry,” Schaafsma maintained. “But the problem is that if you have a large account like Tesco or Sainsbury’s, you need someone who can come in with the calibre to just switch it on straight away – particularly for us as we are a small team.

“This is going to become the case more and more in the future as people have to watch their overheads and margins are tight.

“So much national account work these days is the detail, business planning and also working through your new product development every year and making sure you come up with the correct proposition.

“The exchange rate is hurting us, duty is hurting us, the cost of goods is hurting us, so these are challenging times.

“We run a lean operation. We turn over AU$130 million, we have 12 employees, so having Julian – who has been exposed to so much and so many different areas – come in and also help us train up some junior account managers over time is the right move to make from our point of view.”

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No