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WSTA appoints new Chairman

Created: 28 June, 2019

The Board of Directors of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association is pleased to announce that it has appointed Michael Saunders, CEO of Bibendum PLB, as its new Chairman following Dan Jago’s successful three-year term in the role. Like Dan before him, Michael is a passionate supporter of the wine and spirit trade and takes on the WSTA helm at a time of unparalleled challenges for the industry.

Michael has spent his long career building Bibendum into the UK’s most successful independently owned wine and spirits business. He joined Bibendum in 1982, playing a leading role in growing the company to become a market leader in the UK wine industry. Bibendum Plb was bought by Conviviality in May 2016. Michael left the business the following year, returning as Chief Executive when Bibendum was bought by C&C Group in April 2018.

Michael is also Chairman of the drinks industry charity, The Benevolent, which was set up to support colleagues from the trade facing serious medical or financial hardship or any other workplace or home difficulties.

Yesterday [Thursday 27 June] marked the WSTA’s last Executive Board meeting with Dan Jago at the helm. Following a handover at the end of the meeting Michael Saunders confirmed his and the WSTA’s continued commitment on the main priority of helping the wine and spirit trade continue to flow during the Brexit process and into the new trading environment.

Michael also identified his intention to push hard for more support from the UK government to ensure that wine and spirits get fairer treatment from Treasury and its punishing high duty rates.

The WSTA, as ever, is working hard to grow further membership of any trade association in the drinks sector and to represent more and more producers, importers, exporters, transporters and sellers. By working with members from all corners the wine and spirit trade, we can unite as an industry to be more effective when facing the challenges ahead.

However, any new WSTA agenda will not be defined by Europe, just as it will not completely overshadow the day-to-day business.

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.

Michael Saunders, Chairman of the WSTA Board, said:

“Taking the helm as Chairman of the WSTA is both an honour and a challenge, particularly as the wine and spirit trade is potentially facing some of the toughest trading landscape in its history. Dan Jago has been an excellent Chair who has steered the WSTA through choppy waters and he will be a tough act to follow.

My focus is to ensure that the WSTA continues to meet these challenges head on and offers the best advice and support to guide its members’ – and Government – through these unchartered waters. It is clear that, in this time of uncertainty, standing side-by-side with industry partners to show Government, and the world, we are united in our aims is essential. The WSTA has not – and will not – shrink from this key task.”

Chief Executive of the WSTA, Miles Beale, said:

“We warmly welcome Michael into the hot seat. It is incredibly important to us that the person at the WSTA helm has extensive experience in the wine and spirit trade. Through his work at Bibendum, involvement on the WSTA Board and his chairing of The Benevolent Michael has all the credentials we need.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dan Jago for being an extremely supportive Chair whose combination of sound advice, direction and delegation has meant the WSTA has been encouraged to grow and move into new ventures. We know that, like Dan, Michael has a great passion for the products which we represent and wants to help them prosper. Everyone at the WSTA looks forward to working with him during what will be a fascinating time of great change for the UK – and the world’s – wine and spirit industry.”

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