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Top people moves in drinks: November

Bollinger’s Jérôme Philipon to leave

As reported by the drinks business, Jérôme Philipon, the former president of Champagne brand Bollinger and COO of its holding company, Société Jacques Bollinger (SJB), is to leave the group at the end of this year.

Philipon, who has worked at the business for more than 12 years, took on a more senior position in 2017, which saw him leave Champagne Bollinger’s headquarter’s in Aÿ, near Epernay, to work in the group’s Paris office.

Speaking exclusively to the drinks business last week about the reasons for his departure, he stressed that it was his decision, but also that he was not taking up a new position at another business.

He told db: “I’m leaving after 12 years with the SJB group, and it really is my decision, I have weighed up the pros and cons over the last few months, and discussed it at length with [SJB chairman and Bollinger family member] Étienne Bizot, but I have decided I must move on, and lead a more balanced life.

“I have a farm in France and I have not been able to take care of that in the last few years since I’ve been in Paris, it was easier when I was in Champagne. I spent 10 years with Nestlé, 10 years with Coca Cola, and 12 years at Bollinger.”

Naked Wines’ Rowan Gormley to step down

Naked Wines boss Rowan Gormley announced he will step down from the online wine company after Christmas, claiming he is “a startup guy” rather than the one to build the online business in the US.

The surprise announcement had been planned for 18 months, with current COO Nick Devlin set to step into the top job.

It comes at the end of turbulent period for the company, which has seen the Majestic UK retail and commercial business sold to Japanese-owned US equity firm Fortress Bank for £95 million. Fine wine arm Lay & Wheeler was later sold to an international private company, Coterie Limited, for £11.3 million, in order to concentrate on building Naked Wines’ US ambitions.

Gormley said he was delighted that Devlin would be taking over, calling it the conclusion of a two-year long process to reconfigure Naked to enable it to fulfil its potential.

Lanson’s Paul Beavis leaves after 20 years

Paul Beavis, managing director for Lanson UK and North America, announced he was to step down from the role at the end of December after 20 years with the Champagne house.

Beavis was responsible for growing new markets across Europe and Asia and defining the growth strategy of the Champagne house.

During his time at Lanson, Beavis has overseen the extension of Lanson’s exclusive partnership with the AELTC and is credited with maintaining the brand’s Royal Warrant and forming exclusive partnerships with the O2 Arena and other sporting associations.

Lanson’s president, François Van Aal, commented: “Paul has overseen the growth of the brand in the UK and key export territories and was instrumental in reinvigorating the brand and our key partners and sponsorships in the UK.

“He is leaving the company in a commanding position for which we are truly grateful. Paul will be leaving at the end of December to explore new opportunities.”

First winemaker at Doña Paula steps down

Marcos Fernández, who currently holds the position of first winemaker at Santa Rita Estates-owned Doña Paula, will leave the company on 1 January 2020 “to pursue new professional challenges”.

Santa Rita stressed that his departure was “entirely amicable”. The 2020 harvest will be led by winegrowing director Eduardo Alemparte. Doña Paula will continue to work with consultant Nick Goldschmidt, who will provide international advice during this period.

Camden Town Brewery appoints new managing director

AB InBev-owned Camden Town Brewery has appointed Adam Keary as its managing director, following a promotion from sales director.

Keary, in partnership with Camden founder and CEO Jasper Cuppaidge, has contributed to the brewery’s 216% sales growth in the past three years. Keary has also been responsible for doubling the brewery’s sales force, launching Camden’s products in the top four grocers and extending existing partnerships with UK supermarkets Waitrose and M&S.

He will now be responsible for continuing such growth, overseeing all sides to the business as well as the two breweries in Enfield and Camden.

Keary has previously held roles in companies including Nestle, Heinz, Nespresso, Nudie and Joseph Joseph.

Commenting on his new role, Keary said: “This is a very exciting time for Camden, so naturally I am delighted to take on the role of managing director. Our ambition for the future is massive and I’m looking forward to realising this next phase of growth with our fantastic beer team and network of domestic and international customers.”

Jasper Cuppaidge, founder of Camden Town Brewery, added: “Adam is awesome to work with and every day the company benefits from the aspiration, rigour and strategy that he brings to his role. His achievements at Camden Town Brewery speak for themselves. He’s been at the centre of our incredible growth, his team have secured core listings and built hugely important relationships with some of the UK’s biggest and best on and off trade outlets. Adam has done all this while keeping us true to our core values and mission to become the UK’s favourite lager brewery. I’m looking forward to seeing how the next chapter of Camden’s story unfolds with Adam’s expertise, guidance and ambition at the heart of the business.”

Yealands Wine Group appoints new CEO

Last month, New Zealand’s Yealands Wine Group appointed Tiffani Graydon as its new CEO.

Graydon has 25 years experience in the industry and has previously held the post of general manager sales and marketing at Yealands. She will be charged with refining the company’s business strategy, centred around its commitment to sustainability.

Graydon commented: “After rapid expansion over the last decade, Yealands Wine Group is now ready to enter the next phase of business growth. The future is very bright, and one I’m excited to lead the team through as we focus on building brand equity globally and here in New Zealand; alongside cementing our position in sustainable wine making.

“What sets the Yealands’ story apart from many others in the New Zealand wine industry, and part of what drew me back to the company, is the opportunity we have to take a genuine leadership role in sustainable winemaking. It’s a value held strongly by our people but is also something which is driving consumers’ decision- making in their brand choices.”

Consejo Regulador of Rioja DOCa appoints four new UK ambassadors

Four key members of the UK wine trade were recognised at an awards ceremony in London last month for their efforts in promoting and selling Rioja wines in Britain.

The Consejo Regulador of Rioja DOCa gave gongs to Richard Bigg, owner of Spanish tapas chain Camino, who was singled out as the Off-Trade Representative of the Year for having long championed Rioja on the wine lists across his five London restaurants.

Also decorated was Dawn Mannis, co-founder of Enomatic machine pioneer, The Sampler, who has been equally influential in getting Londoners sipping Rioja, particularly older vintages via Enomatic. She was named Off-Trade Representative of the Year.

Food and wine writer Fiona Beckett received the Communicator of the Year award for her efforts in spreading the word about the diversity and democracy of Rioja wines to her Guardian readers.

Pierre Mansour, head of buying at The Wine Society, won an Outstanding Contribution award for his ongoing championing of the reds, whites and rosados from the region within TWS’s portfolio.

WSTA adds five new members to board

Lizzy Rudd has joined the WSTA board

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association significantly boosted its board last month with five new appointments that includes the wine bosses of Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Berry Bros & Rudd.

The additions, which take the total number on the board to 16, come as the trade association gears up for “whatever new trading landscape is awaiting the trade” post-Brexit, to ensure that “all perspectives are heard when tackling the issues facing the wine and spirit trade going into 2020”, it said.

The new board members are Elizabeth Newman and Jason Godley, the directors for Beers, Wines & Spirits at Sainsbury’s and Tesco respectively, Lizzy Rudd, executive chairman at fine wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd, Bertrand Steip, managing director at Champagne house Moët Hennessy UK and Adrian Curry, managing director at glass manufacturer Encirc.

WSTA chairman and CEO of Bibendum PLB, Michael Saunders, who took up the chairmanship in June this year, said the addition of the new board members’ “collective wealth of experience” would ensure the WSTA could hear and consider views from all types of businesses and from all corners the wine and spirit industry.

“As a board we are increasingly well equipped and motivated to deliver the WSTA’s aims for our industry, including more active engagement in setting the WSTA’s agenda and delivering its recently refreshed aims in what promises to be another challenging year in 2020,” he said.

Chris Porter joins Kukla Beverage Logistics

Chris Porter, the former CEO of drinks trade charity The Benevolent, has taken on the role of business development manager at Kukla Beverage Logistics.

In his new role Porter, who prior to the Benevolent worked for logistics firm Hillebrand, will promote a global range of freight and logistics services to the UK drinks industry.

Porter said of the appointment: “I am delighted and excited to be working with a wonderful team of talented professionals who are dedicated to providing a communicative and personalised service to the drinks industry’s supply chains.

“It’s a very challenging time to join a company specialising in inbound freight solutions. From what I have seen so far though, I am hugely impressed by the proactive can-do attitude of the whole team.

“Having worked with most of them, I have no doubt that they will continue to deliver this quality of service. I’m really looking forward to being part of this growth and demonstrating the advantages that a partnership with Kukla will offer to our clients.”

Uncle Nearest appoints ‘first’ African-American master blender

Tennesse-based whiskey brand Uncle Nearest has appointed Victoria Eady Butler as its master blender, believed to be the “first known” African-American person to hold the title.

Commenting on her new role, Butler said: “It’s difficult for me to put into words what the creation of this brand has meant to me and my family.”

“Being able to contribute to my great-great-grandfather’s whiskey-making legacy as master blender is an honour, as well as a great responsibility. It feels like I’m picking up right where he left off and I am ready.”

Butler was formerly an executive team member at the distiller, overseeing the Nearest Green Foundation, which provides scholarships to Nearest Green’s descendants. She will now oversee the blending process of Uncle Nearest 1884 Premium Small Batch Whiskey as well as Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey.

Fawn Weaver, co-founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest, said: “I remember watching Victoria the first time she entered the blending and tasting room. She was intimidated by the 30 different barrel selections at first, but by the end it was as if she’d been doing this her entire life – the whiskey business is definitely in her blood.

“She proved to us all very early on that she was doing exactly what she was meant to do. Our entire team is grateful and honoured to be here during this time in history when we’ve been given the opportunity to witness the continuation of Nearest Green’s legacy through his bloodline.”

Stuart Fritz promoted to commercial director at Mangrove UK

Fritz has been with the company for almost nine years before being promoted to the newly created position of commercial director in the middle of November.

He previously held the position of head of marketing. His new role will comprise of analysing the UK market and spirit trends, expanding the brand creation strategy and developing new partnerships and bringing new brands to the spirits importer and distributor.

Commenting on the appointment, managing director Nick Gillett said: “We are a growing business and to continue to grow you need to empower your people to develop ideas and react to the market quickly as well as create long-term strategies and efficiencies.

“This new role will allow Stuart the time and autonomy to take action and drive our business ambitions and goals forward.  He is passionate about the drinks industry and he is creative and practical, I am confident he’ll provide the direction we need to continue to grow.”

Fitz said: “With a background in both marketing and sales, I believe the creation of this role, is an insightful development to align the two departments to both support business growth and maximise future opportunities.  I’m looking forward to getting started and I have a lot of exciting plans already.

“In the past I’ve been quite hands-on with the trade and that’s given me great insights into future trends and developments and now I’ll have the time and resources to fully explore these opportunities.”

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