db’s guide to this year’s London Wine Fair

FIRST TIMERS

Furthermore, this year will see a number of exhibitors coming for the first time – including France’s largest wine producer Vinadeis, Spanish region Camara de Alava and The Rothschild Collection. Others, such as Wines of Germany and Wines of Georgia, are returning after a number of years, while some organisations are stepping up their activity this year, including Wines of Chile, with InterRhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape returning with a full stand after a successful outing at the Pop Up Tasting last year.

Waddesdon Wine national sales director, Helen Miller explains why the company is showing for the first time. “The LWF’s focus on high-end on-trade and independent retailers very much aligns with our strategy for these increasingly important sectors,” she says. The increased interest in the category and a larger-than-ever trade campaign has prompted Wines of Germany’s Nicky Forrester to bring its “funky Berlin-inspired bar” to the fair. Côtes du Rhône’s UK and Northern Europe export marketing manager, Alexandre Ballard, puts it in starker terms, arguing that despite recent economic and geo-political developments, the organisation continues to invest and support the UK, as its new ad campaign proves. “The UK remains the Rhône’s first export market by volume, and we wanted to display our confidence and commitment,” he said.

Carter argues that the return of old exhibitors and new signings reflects the continued belief in the UK market, despite the unchartered territory caused by the Brexit vote. “The UK will always be a challenge because it is a mature market, but we are seeing growth in the on-trade and independent retailers, so for those who have wines suitable for that channel, it’s a good time to be here to show their products,” Carter says, adding that the LWF’s has seen its credibility rise too.

“In terms of tone, the zeitgeist is with us. We’re heavily pro-indie and on-trade and that sits well with the increase of independents in the UK over the past few years, while London is coming back in terms of the on-trade. So it’s been timely in terms of exhibitors coming back, or showing for the first time.”

Like-for-like visitor bookings are up by about 5% on the same time last year, and 2016 saw visitors from the indies and on-trade account for around 40% of attendees, a trend signalled by the show’s return to West London. But this is as much because of the enhanced content as to the location, Carter says, which attracts specialist ‘minnows’ and mid-sized specialist importers who stayed away when the show was at ExCel in London’s docklands. “It is about making sure that the offer is right, the mix is right and that the people who are coming are getting the best from the event,” he concludes. “If you have that right, it’s a stronger mix than it has been historically.”

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