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Q&A: Andrea Sartori

We caught up with Andrea Sartori, president of Sartori di Verona, to find out how his business and sales of Pinot Grigio are fairing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

How is business during this tricky time?
We are OK as part of our business worldwide is with retail and supermarkets that are open and operating. Obviously our on-trade side is struggling and with an unknown schedule for reopening, it is very hard to predict the 2020 outcome but we are considering a 20% loss of sales.
How has sales of your wine, and Pinot Grigio specifically, been affected?
Pinot Grigio and other appellations we produce are very strong in the on-trade sector where most of the time, especially with Pinot Grigio, they are an important part of the by the glass programme, so we expect huge loss of volumes.
How have you adapted the way you do business during the coronavirus crisis?
First of all we are happy that we are open as the Italian government has considered us essential services, because we are part of the agriculture sector. Our first concern was to put all our employees in a safe position, implementing all procedures like distancing, masks etc.
We also have part of our team working from home and we might be forced in the near future to put some of the workers on furlough. Commercially we are using all the possible applications to stay in touch with the market using video conferencing, webinars and video training.
Are you enjoying a boost in off-trade/ online sales?
Yes, as a matter of fact in some markets the off-trade is balancing the loss of the on-trade. For online our activity is minimal and mostly connected with our wine shop, which is closed at the moment, but we have seen a large increase in sales from our base of customers .
How do you think the coronavirus crisis will change the world?
It’s difficult to predict as we don’t fully know what the “new normal” will be and how the on-trade is going to cope with that. I expect some rationalization and selection. I am not sure that everybody will make it through both on the production side and the market side.
Do you think it will change how people do business, if so how?
I expect that some of the procedures could become standard, like smart working, more video conferences versus extensive traveling and even the world of wine fairs might change and rationalise events.
What is the future for the wine trade post Covid-19?
There will probably be a slow recovery, maybe slower than other sectors, but in the long term we should be alright. People are willing to resume social life and entertain with good food and a good glass of wine .
What are your top priorities as a company, and also for Pinot Grigio production, going forward?
We need to look for a balance in production with the risk in 2020 to end up with a larger inventory of unsold wine, improving quality and services to support our distribution will also be paramount .
Do you have any new wines in the pipeline and news to report?
We have some repackaging projects for our current production to update. We are also finalising a new line that will use augmented reality marketing, and a new red wine from local varieties made in a global style.

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