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Being a Distributor in the UK Market

Get insights on the UK wine market, how global producers should approach and enter the market, wine premiumization and much more in this Q&A session with Robin Copestick, MD at Copestick Murray

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Robin Copestick is Managing Director of one of the most successful wine distribution companies in the UK. Recent takeover by a German multi-country producer Henkell, it created the ground-breaking IHeart brand securing mass market the UK and global distribution.

Robin took time out from his intense schedule of Autumn traveling to answer Beverage Trade Network's questions.


Tell us more about your business?

Copestick Murray is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Henkell & Co. Henkell owns wineries in most major European countries and has now merged with The Freixenet Group. As such Copestick Murray will merge with Freixenet UK  and will direct access to vineyards and wineries all over the world.

The merged company of Copestick Murray will become the largest supplier of Sparkling Wine in the UK, will have a turnover of over £100 million and employ more than 50 people.

The key brands of the company, Freixenet, I heart Wines and Mionetto is amongst the fastest growing wine brands in the UK.

Wine brands in the UK

What is your business’ target market?

The company supplies all types of business in the UK Ireland but principally the larger on and off trade groups and specialists.

How is the market currently?

The market is great for our company as our brands are performing so well. It looks like the flexibility of Copestick Murray and the success of the brands are an attractive proposition for many customers.

All the stats show premiumisation of the wine market – how is your business adapting to that?

Copestick Murray has adapted well to premiumisation. Our average selling price per bottle has increased by over 30% in the last 12 months.

We are seeing an increasing interest in premium wines and ways of marketing to help sell premium wines.

This is a good thing for all parties as margins are becoming even more challenging for everyone for entry-level wines.

Supermarkets dominate the UK drinks market, will they be still as powerful in 5-10 years time?

I suspect supermarkets will continue to dominate in terms of volume but I am very confident that there will be many different ways to market wine in the future. Therefore suppliers with a diverse business model and portfolio will be able to prosper as well as sell big volumes.

What are the specific wine trends that you are seeing emerge?

Consumers drinking Sparkling wine on a more regular basis.

Drinking less but better.

Lighter styles of wines.

Should the UK market still be a priority for global producers?

I think the UK should be a priority for most producers of wine. The UK gives itself a lot of bad press but the reality is that we consume good quantities of wines at all levels. It is a competitive market but not everything is about price.

How should the ambitious producer approach the UK Market?

If a producer is good and ambitious they should talk to Copestick Murray!

But they should also study the market and discover if their products are genuinely what the consumers want and if they are better (at many levels) than the competition. Then they should succinctly explain to the relevant buyers why they should buy their products.

The Millenial / Gen Z agenda of sustainable, environmentally friendly, natural, organic, biodynamic seems to be a growing force. Is the drinks market embracing it as quickly as they need to?

I believe there are enough producers making sustainable, environmentally friendly, natural, organic, biodynamic products. What is not clear yet is whether there are enough consumers who are genuinely prepared to pay the premium that these products need to enjoy to make them sustainable in their own right.

However, there are good examples of these types of products doing very well in mainstream retailers so my prediction is that this area of the wine trade will continue to grow.

Will Alexa ever replace sommeliers?

I hope not!

Alistair Morrell, Wine InspectorAbout the Author

The article is contributed by Alistair Morrell a Wine Inspector, wine industry consultant, journalist and, commentator. Over 30 years as a wine business professional, Alistair shares his global knowledge, network, and experience of growers, importers, distributors, and buyers.


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