Surprise change of leadership at COFCO

Castle Li, general manager of China’s largest wine importer and distributor, COFCO Wine&Wine, has stepped down from his position in a surprising departure.

According to reports in the Chinese media, Li is to be succeeded by Jiao Guoqiang, who has served as general manager of COFCO W&W’s Shaoxing wine brand – a Chinese wine known as huangjiu which is made from rice and which is often used in cooking.

The government-owned COFCO W&W, is China’s largest wine importer in terms of volume with approximately 400 shops across China, is yet to release an official statement on the matter.

Li appeared to have a successful tenure leading COFCO’s imported wine sector since taking over in December 2017, with sales revenue increasing by 50% to 1 Billion RMB in 2018. However, it is possible the company is not is satisfied with this growth rate, which was 140% in 2017 but which has slowed since.

Jiao certainly has a tough task in front of him as China’s wine imports are expected to take a hit with a slowing economy, weakened RMB, and ongoing trade wars with the US.

It is possible too that Li’s efforts were simply spread too thin having three major roles in the company – being general manager of GreatWall and also deputy general manager of the COFCO Alcoholic Drinks Department, which revolves around the company’s own domestic wine, baiju and spirit brands. According to reports, Li will retain these roles.

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