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Armit export director moves to HK to build Asian business

Armit’s export director Richard Sutton is moving from GB to Hong Kong next month to augment the merchant’s business in Asia.

Speaking to the drinks business yesterday, Richard said he was leaving the UK with his family following his promotion to the role of managing director for Armit Hong Kong.

His official start date is 1 September and he told db that his aim is “to build the business in Hong Kong and pan Asia.”

He said that his initial focus would be Hong Kong, with an emphasis on increasing Armit’s trade customers in the city, particularly in the restaurant sector.

To facilitate this, he said, “Hopefully, in the next few days we will appoint a head of on-trade”.

Once this appointment is made, it will take Armit’s Hong Kong office up to a total of six full time staff, including Richard.

Richard Sutton, new MD for Armit Hong Kong

Presently 90% of Armit’s Hong Kong business comes from private clients, and although Richard hopes to increase this aspect to the company, he would like to see more trade clients too.

He also said that the new appointment for the on-trade might be followed by another for this part of the business, as well as a further member of staff for private client sales.

He also said that he would be increasing the number of agency wines Armit sells exclusively in Hong Kong.

“I hope to announce five to six new agencies,” he stated.

“Three to four of our UK agencies we are allowed to sell in Hong Kong, and I’m working on persuading more to follow them,” he added.

Despite the current stagnation in the fine wine market, Richard said that he thought the potential for Armit in Hong Kong was “hugely exciting”.

“Perhaps we have reached the bottom of the fine wine pricing slide now and at some point soon the smart investors will start coming back in again,” he commented.

He explained that Armit customers include both “drinkers and investors.”

The former, he said, “are the daily bread and butter, but the big returns come from the investors – and they have been pretty quiet for the last nine months.

“But there has to come a point, and if we haven’t reached it, it will come soon, when we see Liv-ex bottom out and the investors start to come back in.”

Aside from increasing the number of customers in Hong Kong, Richard said he would be looking to expand the amount of Armit clients in Mainland China, as well as Taiwan and Japan, along with Macau, Singapore and Thailand.

“It is quite possible that we will open another sales office in the region,” he said, adding, “but where exactly will be decided by where we find the best people – it will be staff led, rather than customer led.”

Armit opened its subsidiary in Hong Kong in 2008 after the repeal of duty on wine.

Armit Hong Kong was initially managed by Stephen Wickens, who has since left the merchant to set up his own business, called Wickens & Co fine wine merchants.

Richard joined Armit in spring 2008 from Corney and Barrow, where he had been head of export sales.

Prior to his promotion to managing director Armit Hong Kong, Richard was based in the UK office where he managed trade and private client accounts abroad, with particular focus on Asian markets.

In the UK, Armit is renowned for its Italian fine wine brands, and it holds exclusive agencies for Sassicaia, Angelo Gaja, Bruno Giacosa and Tenuta dell’Ornellaia.


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