Armit: Wine buyers are ‘old fashioned’

Relying on wine buyers to secure sales is “old fashioned”, according to the managing director of  French group Invivo’s European business.

Armit Wines, which was bought out by French group Invivo in 2017, reported a 15% rise in sales between April and June this year, according to a press release sent ahead of its full results, which will be published in October.

Armit accumulated total losses of £2.38 million by the end of the 2018 financial year, down from £2.95 million in 2017, according to results posted on Companies House. The director’s statement said its liabilities exceeded its assets by around £1.63m.

In the past six months, however, sales have increased by 6%.

Philippe Leveau, Invivo’s managing director for Europe, told db the company is now in better health thanks to a strong en primeur campaign and a string of strategic new hires.

In January 2019 it appointed Giusy Andreachio, who rejoined the company after 18 months at C&C, in the new role as Italian Ambassador in its London team, Catia Santolin from Field, Morris & Verdin, and Alex Hill as brand manager.

“I think this concept of buyers is old fashioned,” he told db. “Nowadays what you really need is people who share winery views and values, so those people are not only really focused on the brand, but also they can interpret that in the sales team at the key point of sale.” Leveau said the company’s staffing structure is built around three pillars; events, marketing, and operations.

The company has a number of IT investment plans in the pipeline, which include a refreshed look and feel of the website and a new online ordering system for trade customers later this year and the implementation of InVivo’s ERP system (SAP) in 2020.

Seasonal events are also a key growth opportunity for the business, Leveau said, adding that Armit’s Bordeaux en-primeur campaign delivered an uplift of 30% compared to last year.

Armit has a “strong core of Italian and other European producers and will continue to be a global wine merchant,” he said.

“We are proud to represent some of the world’s most iconic wineries and we will continue to scout for the next generation of wine stars, in the new and the old world. In particular, France is an exciting region where we see untapped potential for growth.

“Armit Wines has an impressive brand building track record and InVivo Wine is offering the tools and stability to continue this legacy.”

Armit has made a series of investments in its senior sales team in recent months, appointing Bancroft Wine’s Susan Harper as sales and marketing manager in October 2018. It also boosted its London restaurant and off-trade team with the appointment of Field, Morris & Verdin’s Nicolas Clers MS as key account and brand manager in October that year.

Armit, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, was bought by French company InVivo Group in July 2017 as part of its purchase of Armit’s parent company, Baarsma Wine Group.

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