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Simpson takes top spot at Pol Roger Ltd

James Simpson MW has become managing director of Pol Roger Ltd, the Champagne house’s UK office and agency business.

James Simpson MW has been promoted to the position of managing director at Pol Roger Ltd

Simpson, who starts the new post at Pol Roger Ltd today, was formerly sales and marketing director, and has worked for the company since 1993.

Well known to those in the UK wine trade, Simpson is an active member of the Wine Trade Sports Club, the Institute of Masters of Wine, the Varsity tasting competitions, The Worshipful Company of Vintners, as well as The Royal Warrant Holders Association.

He is also a trustee of The Wine and Spirit Education Trust and from this month will replace Laura Jewell MW as chairman of the trustees.

Simpson began his career in the wine trade at Mentzendorff, the UK importer for Bollinger, where he started as a “cellar boy” in 1986, before achieving the Master of Wine qualification in 1992 aged 27, making him the third youngest person to gain the title.

Simpson assured db at the end of last year that the character of Pol’s UK operation won’t change now he’s at the helm, although he hopes to expand the number of top-end Californian wines represented by Pol Roger UK, because he sees an opportunity for Californian fine wine in the UK.

Simpson will also take Pol Roger Ltd back to the London Wine Fair this year, marking the company’s first time at the capital’s main trade event for eight years.

Aside from the return to Kensington’s Olympia, he says he’s supporting the exhibition in 2015 because “We’ve been good at shouting about brands, but slightly less good at shouting about our company as a portfolio business.”

Pol Roger Ltd currently represents Burgundy’s Joseph Drouhin, Josmeyer from Alsace, and Tokaj’s Crown Estates, as well as two recent additions from California: Staglin and Robert Sinskey. Added to these are spirits Hine and Glenfarclas, along with, since January, Islay single malt whisky producer Kilchoman Distillery.

Former MD, Nick James, hit retirement age in November, but will remain on the Pol Roger board until March, having done seven years running the UK office. James joined the business in 1998 after a career representing Champagne houses from Taittinger to Lanson, as well as Port brands such as Graham’s.

For a full interview with James Simpson MW, see the January edition of the drinks business, out next week.

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