Vranken-Pommery appoints new on-trade exec

Champagne house Vranken Pommery has appointed former Matthew Clark manager James Smith to head up its UK national on-trade.

Smith, who will manage the route to market for Vranken champagnes, wine and port brands in the UK, previously spent 11 years at drinks supplier Matthew Clark, where he oversaw the supply into the hotel industry as senior business manager for hotels. Accounts he was responsible for included the Hilton Hotel Group, Jupiter, Q Hotels, BDL and Cotswold Inn. Prior to that he spent five years as a regional account manager for Moet Hennessy covering the South West of England, and four years on the Fine Wine Desk at Bibendum Wine Ltd.

Vranken Pommery’s UK director Sara Hicks said he was a great addition to the team. “James joins us with a wealth of experience and a proven track record in sales and brand management,” she said.

Smith said he was excited to be returning to one of his loves, representing a champagne house in the UK and working with on-trade customers to develop mutual business strategies. “With the addition of rosé wine from Provence and the Camague and port, it’s an exciting portfolio to be going to the market with,” he said.

Pommery is owned by the Vranken-Pommery Monopole Group, and is one of the biggest Champagne groups in the world. Its brands including Pommery, Heidsieck & Co Monopole, Vranken and Champagne Charles Lafitte, as well as ports Rozes and Sao Pedro, and still wine Terras do Grifo and Chateau la Gordonne.

Last year it became the first of the big Champagne houses to release an English sparkling wine, under its new Louis Pommery label after announcing a partnership with Hampshire’s Hattingley Valley in 2014 and buying a 40-hectare site called Pinglestone in Alresford, Hampshire, which is expected to yield its first harvest in 2021.

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