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Q&A with Cellina Chan

Justerini & Brooks’ new Hong Kong head of sales, Cellina Chan, on expanding the company’s Asian operations.

Chan took up her new post on 29 September, joining from Zachys auction house which she joined after a 13 year stint at Berry Bros & Rudd.

Speaking to the drinks business, she explained her job would be to use “Justerini & Brooks’ history, buying team, guarantee of provenance and storage” to bolster its already sizeable Asian operation.

“We began selling in Hong Kong and Singapore in the 1970s,” she said, “and Asia now accounts for 40% of our business.”

Greater China, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan and Indonesia are all in her sights for now and the company is holding a a dinner with Paul Pontallier, technical director of Château Margaux, in Jakarta at the beginning of next month.

With a crowded marketplace in Hong Kong, buyers ever more wary of fakes and yet more people beginning to drink wine, Chan also intends to draw on Justerini & Brooks’ “deep” portfolio and more exclusive allocations to entice more Asian customers.

Nonetheless, she is glad to see that the days of Asian clients buying wine blindly, based merely on how expensive it is per case are rapidly receding into the past.

“Chinese buyers are more knowledgeable,” she continues, “they look at provenance and pricing more and are prepared to pay extra to make sure the provenance is good. They also ask for pictures to check condition and seepage and so on.

So prevalent is this becoming that the merchant has pictures of every wine on its broking list to provide for its clients.

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