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Enotria to hit acquisition trail

The UK wine industry is “ripe for consolidation”, believes Alison Levett, CEO of Enotria, which last week confirmed the sale of a majority stake to private equity firm BlueGem.

Alison Levett, CEO of Enotria

Speaking to the drinks business in more detail about the impact of this deal, Levett confirmed a plan for “acquisitions in the near term,” as the UK supplier looks to grow on the back of this fresh investment.

“It was a great cultural fit,” she said of the new partnership. “We liked BlueGem as a dynamic, forward thinking company who are bringing investment but also a fresh pair of eyes – it’s not just about the money; it’s the wider support they can bring. We’re used to this private equity model and it works well for us; it allows us to stay as a stand alone company.”

With the on-trade representing around 55% of the company’s business, giving Enotria an estimated 5% share of total UK on-trade listings, Levett described this sector as “our top priority” as she hinted at “a whole host of projects to look at in the next few months.”

Outlining the opportunities for growth, Levett explained: “We particularly understand independent restaurants, but clearly underplay in other areas. There are still some geographical areas too where we can undoubtedly strengthen our position and acquisition will undoubtedly play a big role in that.”

Since taking the reins as CEO six years ago, Levett tracked the company’s evolution from “a high quality wine business with Italian expertise” to become “recognised as forward-thinking, world wine experts.”

This progress was acknowledged at The Drinks Business Awards 2012, which not only saw Enotria win On-trade Supplier of the Year, but Levett herself named Woman of the Year.

In contrast to what she described as the “more market-led” approach she has cultivated at Enotria, Levett pointed to much of the wine trade as being “very lifestyle oriented with people who have a passion for wine and a very product-led approach.” As a result, she argued, “It’s undoubtedly an industry that’s ripe for consolidation and there would be big benefits to that.”

A full version of this interview will appear in August’s issue of the drinks business.

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