Highlights From the Two-Day IBWSS 2018 Event in London
The IBWSS UK 2018, offered a first-hand look at how UK-based importers, distributors, & retailers can get involved in the bulk wine & private label industry.
The International Bulk Wine & Spirits Show (IBWSS), which took place on February 26-27, offered a first-hand look at how UK-based importers, distributors, and retailers can get involved in the bulk wine and private label industry. If there is one big takeaway from this year’s IBWSS 2018 event in London (the only event of its kind in the UK), it’s that the bulk wine industry continues to grow at a rapid pace, creating many new opportunities for growth at every stage of the wine supply chain. That excitement about the future growth prospects of the bulk wine industry was palpable throughout the two days of IBWSS London.
On the show floor of the Royal Horticultural Halls, more than 44 exhibitors from all over the world showcased their latest products and provided details on their bulk wine shipping and private label services. Participants spending time on the showroom floor could explore wines from California, Australia, South America and Europe, and then find out more about how to ship these wines to the UK market. Innovation within the bulk wine and private label market was certainly another big theme at IBWSS London. This innovation included some new product offerings for the UK market – such as new private label spirits from whiskey and bourbon makers in the United States. It also included new glassware and stemware for wine and spirits.
That spirit of innovation and embracing new ways of doing business set the tone for the two days of speaker presentations and panel discussions at IBWSS London. These speakers and panelists discussed industry best practices for people just starting out in the bulk wine and private label industry, and also offered key insider tips and insights for more experienced veterans of the bulk wine industry. Over the two-day period, the following speakers gave presentations at IBWSS London:
1. Clive Donaldson, Wine Sourcing Manager at Wm Morrison Supermarkets, discussed what retailers are really looking for in private and bulk suppliers;
2. David Richardson of the WSTA analyzed the current regulatory environment for bulk shipping and bulk goods;
3. Clem Yates of Off-Piste Wines discussed the potential channel conflicts created by private label wines and how best to avoid them;
4. Florian Ceschi, Director of Ciatti Europe, reviewed some of the key trends he was seeing in the global bulk wine market;
5. Barry Dick, MW analyzed the different shipping methods for bulk wines and outlined the pros and cons of each;
6. Mark Lansley, CEO of Broadland Wineries, discussed best practices for enhancing the overall profitability of wine retailers using bulk wine and private labels;
7. Stylianos Filopoulos of Wine in Moderation (WIM) Association discussed how winemakers and wine retailers can embrace themes of social responsibility in ways that make sense for their business;
8. Geoff Taylor of Campden BRI discussed the quality challenges facing the bulk wine industry; Neil Anderson of Kingsland Drinks analyzed how and why both consumers and retailers are celebrating the phenomenal growth of the bulk wine industry. Ideas, themes, and concepts brought up by this stellar group of speakers were often debated and reviewed during a series of panel discussions that took place over the two days.
These panel discussions opened the door for participants to ask very specific questions for their own business, as well as to get unique insights by talking one-on-one with the speakers after the end of the public panels.
One major takeaway from these panelists and speakers was the importance of listening to the consumer. As Clive Donaldson of Wm Morrison Supermarkets pointed out in his Day 1 presentation, “If customers want to buy a product, we will want to buy the product.” Keeping the customer in mind is now paramount for any retailer that wants to be successful with private labels. Within the UK, customers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, often inquiring about new wine varietals and new wine regions before they ever become popular. Keeping an ear to the ground, then, is a remarkably important way to stay ahead of changing trends and tastes.
In general, the panelists at IBWSS London focused on very actionable advice tied to profitability and growth. For example, a panel discussion led by Andrew Catchpole, Editor at Harpers Wine & Spirit, covered very specific aspects of how retailers could build profitable private label programs. Key points included the best routes for sourcing new wines, how to maintain consistency of supply, the need for quality control, and how to expand a private label product range.
While many of these insights were tailored to the private label wine industry, they could also easily be applied to the private label spirits industry. In fact, for many retailers, private label spirits offer the prospect of higher margins than they are currently seeing with their private label wines. And that shifting emphasis to private label spirits showed up on the showroom floor, as many of the private label spirits exhibitors at the event experienced some of the biggest buzz amongst participants.
The final evening of the two-day event wrapped up with participants mixing and mingling on the showroom floor. In some cases, it meant discovering entirely new wines and spirits. In other cases, it meant re-discovering the wines of regions that are already popular with UK wine drinkers, such as the wines of Spain and Italy. The Royal Horticultural Halls in the very heart of London provided the perfect backdrop of the event, hinting at the boundless possibilities of the bulk wine market, while also reinforcing the tradition and timelessness of the wine industry itself.