China’s leading importer appoints new CEO

12th October, 2012 by Patrick Schmitt

China’s leading fine wine importer ASC Fine Wines has appointed a new CEO as Don St. Pierre Jr, co-founder and CEO of the business, becomes executive chairman of the board.

John Watkins

The new CEO, John Watkins, is a longstanding friend of Don St. Pierre Jr and Sr, but comes from outside the wine trade.

Writing to the drinks business about the changes today, Don St. Pierre Jr noted, “John Watkins is someone my father and I have known since we started ASC, and while John does not have any wine related business experience, he is we believe, one of the most successful professional managers in China, and he has a great passion for wine – he was in fact our very first home delivery customer!”

Watkins will take up his position on Monday 15 October and was most recently president & CEO at GE AVIC Civil Avionics Systems Company, where he led the establishment of the 50-50 joint venture between GE and China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC).

Prior to joining GE, Watkins was a corporate vice president of Cummins Inc. and chairman and CEO of Cummins (China) Investment Co., where he led Cummins team of 7,000 people in 21 locations in China.

Watkins has also held various senior positions at Northwest Airlines over 18 years.

Don St. Pierre Jr

Don St. Pierre Jr stressed that although his role at ASC Fine Wines was changing, his shareholding in the company would remain the same.

Explaining his decision to take up a new position, he added, “When my father and I started ASC in 1996, we could have never imagined how quickly the market for wine would develop in China; however what has been achieved up to now is really only the beginning, because it is only been over the past few years that Chinese wine consumers have started to take a real interest to learn about wine and make wine more than just something to drink for business related entertainment.”

Continuing, he noted, “Over the past 10 years we have grown from a company that employs fewer than 100 staff with three offices and revenue of less than US$8 million to a company that employs more than 1,200 staff with 26 offices and revenues in excess of US$200m, making ASC 6 to 7 times bigger than any of other foreign-owned wine-focused importer and 2 to 3 times bigger than any locally-owned wine-focused import/distribution company.

“As you might expect, this rapid growth has created some real challenges; these challenges are further magnified by the difficult and unpredictable operating environment which makes China so unique. Keep in mind, however, if it were not for this difficult environment, the opportunities for great success would be much less, hence we are not afraid of the challenges China presents, rather we embrace them, and up to now we have been better than any of our competitors in successfully managing them.”

Finally, he noted, “It is with these great opportunities and challenges in mind that I have decided to change my role from CEO to executive chairman of the board. I have made this decision because I believe ASC has reached a size and stage of maturity where it is imperative we have a professional CEO with the experience and capabilities to lead the entire team forward, hence the board and I have decided to appoint John Watkins to this role.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
M3/M4 corridor

Media Sales Manager - Hong Kong

The Drinks Business Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Regional Account Manager

New Generation Wines
London, UK

Experienced Sales Account Manager – On Trade

Cantina Goccia
London and the south, UK

National Sales Manager – Premium Drinks

Core Recruitment
London based with national travel

Wine Trainee

Stone, Vine & Sun
Twyford, near Winchester, Hampshire

Senior Technologist - Drinks

Conviviality Group
London, UK

Procurement Manager

JF Hillebrand Global Beverage Logistics
Essex, UK

Porter & Laker Manager

Porter & Laker
Essex, UK

Sales Manager & Brand Ambassador - Southwest

Salcombe Distilling Co.
Southwest of England - reporting to Salcombe HQ, GB

Head of Marketing

ATOM Supplies
Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK

Private Client Sales Manager

Cult Wines
Hammersmith, London, UK

The Global Merlot Masters 2017

Deadline : 24th February 2017

The Prosecco Masters 2017

Deadline : 24th February 2017

db Awards 2017

Deadline : 28th April 2017

The Global Organic Masters 2017

Deadline : 3rd March 2017

Click to view more

The Global Sparkling Masters

the drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Sparkling Masters

The Global Rosé Masters 2016

the drinks business is proud to announce the launch of the Global Rosé Masters 2016.

The Prosecco Masters 2016

Now in its third year, the competition will reflect the growth in popularity of this fresh and exciting sparkling wine from the picturesque regions of Veneto and Friuli.

The Global Pinot Noir Masters 2016

After the success of last year’s competition that judged over 250 wines from no less than 16 countries, the drinks business is proud to announce the third year of the Global Pinot Noir Masters

Click to view more