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WSTA appoints new Chair and Deputy Chair

Created: 29 April, 2022

The Board of Directors of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association has announced a new Chair, Mark Riley of Edrington UK, who will be supported by Pierpaolo Petrassi MW from Waitrose, in what is a new position as deputy chair.

The pair – who have 64 years’ experience in the drinks trade between them – follow Michael Saunders, CEO of Bibendum Wines’, successful three-year term as chair and 10 years on the Board. Michael was also chair of the Drinks Trust trade charity.

Like Michael before them, both new appointments are titans of the wine and spirit trade and take on the WSTA helm at a time when the industry is focused on recovery and rejuvenation during what continues to be a turbulent time.

Mark Riley has worked in the premium spirits industry for 25 years and as Managing Director at Edrington UK he has led the business through significant growth and accelerated change. Prior to joining Edrington UK he held various senior sales and customer marketing roles within Beam Inc and Diageo.

With almost 40 years’ experience in the Wine and Spirit industry, Pierpaolo Petrassi MW – currently Head of Trading at Waitrose – became Master of Wine in 2007 and has been consistently placed top five in trade magazine polls for most influential people in wine. He previously held roles in Carnevale Group, International Wine Services, Waverley TBS (2003-2007) and Tesco.

Earlier this week [Wednesday, April 27th] marked the WSTA’s last Executive Board meeting with Michael at the helm. Following the meeting at Encirc’s office in Chester he handed over at the end of the meeting to Mark and Pierpaolo – and stepped down from the Board. Mark and Pierpaolo paid thanks to Michael’s sterling work and confirmed their and the WSTA’s continued commitment to helping the wine and spirit trade continue to recover, rebuild and grow post Brexit and pandemic.

The new chair and deputy chair will continue Michael’s recruitment drive to ensure that the WSTA has the most diverse membership providing a strong, united voice within the trade. They will look to encourage more spirit businesses, wholesalers and independents into the fold.

As well as keeping a close eye on the traditional categories the new team will also encourage more work in the low/no sector, mixing of categories and into efforts to help guide the sector down the environmental path to Net Zero.

The board are keenly aware that more work needs to be done to encourage better diversity within the sector and the WSTA hopes to seek out more ‘future’ leaders and board non-principal candidates.

Mark and Pierpaolo have made clear their support for the WSTA’s continued push for more support from the UK government, including that wine and spirits receive fairer treatment from Treasury.

The WSTA is there to help members through every labelling, regulatory, importing, exporting or market query as well as ensuring the voice of the industry continues to be heard within Whitehall and Westminster, as well as in the trade and national media.

Mark Riley, Chairman of the WSTA Board, said:

“I am honoured to become Chairman of the WSTA, following in the footsteps of Michael who – along with Miles as CEO – has expertly led the organisation and its members through some testing periods.

“It is clear the industry faces significant challenges, and my primary focus will be to ensure that the WSTA meets these head on, as it always has done, capably guiding both its members and the government through an ever-changing trading landscape. It is vital the industry continues to speak with one voice, and we embrace changes that need to be made in areas such as sustainability, diversity and inclusion.

“I am excited about what lies ahead, working with Pierpaolo, Miles and the incredible team at the WSTA to push forward our agenda and create the best trading environment for our industry.”

Pierpaolo Petrassi, Deputy Chair of the WSTA Board, said:  

“I am delighted to take on the new role as deputy chair and supporting Mark as he takes the helm.  These have been some of the most tumultuous times in our industry, but with challenge comes innovation, fresh ideas and progress and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store for the coming months.”

Chief Executive of the WSTA, Miles Beale, said:

“We warmly welcome Mark as chair and Pierpaolo as deputy chair, providing us with leadership from two titans of the wine and spirit trade. We are incredibly lucky to have such experienced people at the WSTA helm giving the WSTA more access and insight across the industry at a time when we need it most. The combination of producer and retailer, spirits and wine, brings to the board the perfect cocktail of credentials which we need to help the trade recover, rebuild and robustly take on the challenges ahead.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Michael Saunders for being an extremely dedicated chair, whose combination of sound advice, direction and dogged determination to boost recruitment has meant the WSTA has been encouraged to grow and move into new ventures.

We know that, like Michael, Mark and Pierpaolo have a great passion for the products which we represent and their vast experience will be a huge asset to the WSTA membership. Everyone at the WSTA looks forward to working with them during this new chapter for the world of the wine and spirit industry.”

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