Aldi restructures its wine team by wine colour

Aldi has restructured its wine buying team, introducing two new buying manager roles to enable buying directors to concentrate on overall strategy, and dividing the buying team by colour rather than by country.

Buying director Josh Heley will head up the strategic side of the category alongside Iain McFadyen

Josh Heley, who was appointed as a wine buying director in February from another part of the business, and Iain McFadyen, who has spend ten years in the operations side of the business, will head up the wine buying team, with Andrew Clarke, former purchasing manager at Greene King, and Lucy Pemberton taking on the newly created roles of wine manager.

The appointment of the managers will allows Heley and McFadyen to concentrate on the strategic and operations side of the business, Heley told db.

“The biggest change is that it frees us as directors to do more on the strategic side, hopefully it will allows us to do more visits, trade shows, the manager will manage the assistants more closely,” he said.

“It’s giving us the opportunity to focus on the right place, to look at the data, at what our competitors are doing, at new products and forge the right range,” McFadyen added. “The manager role alleviates the buying director role, to understand the market and do the vision of the category.”

The retailer is also changing the way the wine assistant team, who report in to Clarke and Pemberton, buys wine, opting for dividing buying by colour rather than country. “You used to have a wine assistant who bought for Chile, Argentina, and North America etc, but we’ve changed that for a colour instead.” Heley explained, adding that all the retailer’s internal systems are set up to report by colour rather than by country.

Heley, who spoke to db about his new focus with the range, will oversee red, white and rose wines with McFadyen looking after sparkling and fortifieds, while Clarke will manage the team for rose, sparkling and fortified, with Pemberton taking responsibility for red and white wines.

The move follows a similar move by Morrisons at the start of the year.

The changes follow the promotion of Aldi’s highly respected UK wine director Mike James to a global sourcing role within the retailer. James, who has been credited with making the discounter a major player in UK wine retail over the last ten years, was named the Drink Business’s Retail Buyer of the Year 2019. 

Now based in Austria, James told db the new role will involve looking at ranges at a global level to see where there are similarities between countries in order to boost the retailer’s economies of scale and introduce an element of streamlining.

“I won’t be informing ranges per se as there are experts in each local market, but once a national or local buyer has identified that they need x, y or z wines, I can say, ‘this wine in the US is a similar wine, so we can buy that for both markets’, or look at a wine in Aldi Australia and see if it would work in the UK market,” he told db.

The UK, he admitted, had been “quite a bit of of driver” for the retailer in recent years and his ten plus years of experience here, along with strong network of contacts would enable him to add value and give better qualify of wines at better prices.

“Certainly on my watch, we’ve changed the wine landscape from a supermarket point-of-view”, he admitted. “So I know how to deal with both volume producers and boutique producers. Getting quality is important.”

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