WSTA publishes the definitive guide to getting the best out of Brexit

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has created the trade’s most extensive Brexit guide for business and government, setting out clear goals to preserve the UK’s status as the hub of the world’s wine and spirit trade.

‘Planning for a No Deal EU Exit: The wine and spirit industry’s response’ calls on the new Prime Minister to ensure that, post-Brexit, goods move as freely as possibly between the UK and the EU and that wine and spirit duty is cut to help the industry navigate the turbulent post-Brexit trading landscape.

The WSTA is also urging the next PM to publish a clear plan and roadmap for the UK’s exit, having listened to their membership and come away clear in the knowledge that UK business neither wants nor can afford a repeat of extensive Brexit planning prior to the original, and missed, 29th of March deadline.

Polling of WSTA membership - including firsthand accounts of the real issues facing industry – has allowed the WSTA to set out a list of recommendations to help clear the fog of Brexit uncertainties.

The UK is the world’s largest exporter of spirits, and the second largest importer of wine, but to maintain our country’s defining role the UK government needs to deliver some practical solutions to keeping trade flowing.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said:

“We spent an enormous amount of time helping our members ensure that the UK wine and spirit trade was prepared for a no deal Brexit in the runup to the original March 29 deadline. We continually engaged with Government to make sure they understood the consequences for businesses upon leaving the EU without a deal.

“Sadly, no deal is still not off the table. As a global industry, a no deal Brexit and the uncertainty it would bring still poses a significant risk to our members, and we continue to work tirelessly to ensure their voices are heard.

“The businesses the WSTA represents have tackled this challenge head on for three years and will continue to do so, so that the industry - worth £49 billion to the UK economy - will continue to thrive in a post-Brexit world.”

The WSTA’s no deal booklet sets out what the Government should do:

  • Publish a clear plan and timetable for the UK’s exit of the EU
  • Secure Free Trade Agreements with key partners
  • Continue to work with the WSTA to promote British gin and English wine overseas
  • Guarantee continued access to a skilled workforce
  • Offer support to SMEs who cannot alleviate post-Brexit pain by stockpiling
  • Postpone VAT accounting
  • Retain the EU EMCS
  • Introduce a 9 month exemption period for VI-1 requirements
  • Ensure goods move as freely as possible across the border between the UK and EU - especially between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
  • Join the World Wine Trade Group
  • Commit to wine and spirit roundtables
  • Take steps to make the UK more attractive eg removing all tariffs on imports and cutting excise duty on wines and spirits.

Rebekah Kendrick, WSTA’s Head of Brexit and EU Affairs and author of the Brexit report, said:

“The guide sets out a series of practical proposals to put in place in the event of no deal. By backing British business and giving trade a clear timetable, with commitments to support the sector, the Government can ensure the wine and spirit trade is able to invest and grow.”

While the industry’s firm preference is for a negotiated EU Exit, the WSTA continues to prepare its members for a No Deal Exit scenario.

The publication makes clear that the biggest industry concern is being prevented from moving goods on and around 31 October 2019.

Businesses will be increasing stock levels for Christmas and New Year, meaning warehousing space will be even more limited than it was in March 2019 putting a major strain on business resources at its busiest time of year.

The WSTA members survey revealed that 85 % WSTA wine and spirit members are investing staff time and company money on preparations on a no deal Brexit.

Members reported a range of the size of cash injections put into stockpiling with quotes of up to £5 million. One WSTA member reporting that the cost of their warehouse space had increased by 60%.

Rising costs were a very real concern, made clear in the survey replies, one member said:

“Unfortunately, with the two false starts and uncertainty we were forced as a business not only to bear the cost to come up with a plan but also to start to operate under our no deal preparations. Costs including consultancy, travel and management overhead would be around the £100k mark but are still being fully accounted for.”

You can read the full document by clicking on this link -

WSTA broadens its base with two new Board members

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has welcomed two new faces to its board as it concentrates increasingly on supporting imports and exports of wines and spirits as Britain edges closer to the prospect of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Ahead of the new trading landscape it has welcomed both a household name logistics company and one of Europe’s leading spirit producers to take a seat at the table.

Brad Madigan, Managing Director for Campari Group UK, and Sébastien Desreumaux, CEO of iForce and Eddie Stobart Contract Logistics, attended their first WSTA Board meeting in June.

Brad’s appointment brings into the fold a key global player in spirits importing and with him comes some of the world’s most recognisable international spirit brands.

Sébastien takes his place as the first e-fulfilment business to join the WSTA Board. His appointment provides a voice for all our members who work within the rapidly developing wine and spirit supply chain.

Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Miles Beale, said:

“The WSTA continues to fortify its Board team and I am delighted to welcome both Brad and Sébastien. We represent the big and the small, bringing together domestic and international businesses and uniting producers, suppliers, logistical firms and retailers - all crucial players in the wine and spirit trade. Each member of our Board brings to the table a different set of skills that means the WSTA can cover every issue facing this diverse sector. The WSTA is doing more than ever before for its members and the industry in these uncertain and testing times.”
Brad Madigan is the Managing Director for Campari Group UK, a position he has held for the past 12 months. Brad relocated in July 2018 to the UK from Australia where he led the Commercial Function for one of Campari Group’s Largest Business Units.

Brad’s previous experience includes customer focused and leadership roles at Unilever and Diageo before joining Campari Group as part of the Australian start-up team in January 2010. Brad was previously a board member of the Australian Drinks Association and the Diversity & Inclusion Council for the Australian Drinks Association. With over 20 years’ experience in the FMCG, 14 of which have been in the alcohol industry, Brad has a strong understanding of the current opportunities and challenges facing the broader industry.

Sébastien Desreumaux was appointed as CEO of iForce, part of the Eddie Stobart Logistics Group, in July 2018, a company that provides full end-to-end supply chain solutions across a number of leading brands within their core consumer; e-commerce; retail and manufacturing, industrial and bulk sectors.

iForce is at the forefront of the modern e-commerce market and is the fastest UK logistics company, operating online wine and spirits, as well as helping customers maximize the potential of multi-channel retailing through their operational expertise and industry-leading software solutions.

Sébastien’s career has seen him working over 20 years’ in all parts of the overall supply chain, within fast growing international logistics companies. He has been a member of the supply chain committee of the EPCA (European Petrochemical Association), and a Board member of the CNR, the French road freight transport economic committee before moving to the UK.
Michael Saunders, Chairman of the WSTA, comments:

“I am very pleased to welcome both Brad and Sébastien to the Board. Their wealth of experience in two different fields brings a good balance which will strengthen the WSTA board.

Brad’s extensive knowledge of the global spirits industry and expertise in the world of importing is a tremendous asset to the Board. Equally, Sébastien’s years of experience of the vast supply chain which our industry relies upon to trade will add two important voices to the WSTA boardroom.

I look forward to working with them both, along with the rest of the board as we see out 2019 and move forward into 2020.”

Brad Madigan, Managing Director for Campari Group UK, said:

“I’m extremely pleased to be chosen to serve on the board at the WSTA. Now more than ever the WSTA board needs a diverse and experienced team helping all the members navigate through the next 12 months. I look forward to working alongside other industry leaders to further the great work be done by the WSTA.”

Sébastien Desreumaux CEO of iForce and Eddie Stobart Contract Logistics said:

“I was delighted to be asked to join the WSTA Board. Britain’s logistics firms will be at the forefront of ensuring trade continues to flow post-Brexit. I’m looking forward to helping the WSTA and its members prepare for whatever lays ahead and strengthen its global ties to keep the UK wine and spirit industry as a key destination for global trade.”

British Ambassadors call for more brand Britain wine and spirits at overseas events

The UK’s Ambassadors and senior diplomats want greater support to serve more English wine and British gin at receptions and celebrations to plug our great British drinks industry.

To further persuade dignitaries to fly the flag for the British drinks industry the WSTA joined forces with the FCO to serve only drinks produced in the UK at the annual reception for overseas diplomats.

For the fourth year running the WSTA arranged for the best of British gin and the finest English fizz to take centre stage at the event - sending out a strong message to serve British.

A survey revealed that “availability” was the biggest stumbling block for diplomats trying to showcase British drinks at their events.

One diplomat commented: “We would very much like to serve a much wider range of gin and more English wine but are often prevented by a lack of availability and ability to import at a reasonable price.”

Sir Simon McDonald, the UK’s top diplomat at the Head of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has called for a more concerted effort to encourage UK representatives to “serve British at home and abroad.”

Sir Simon said:

“I am delighted the WSTA once again supported our event - our home-grown spirits and wine sector is flourishing but I would like us to be able to do more.

“Our wine and gin exports are increasingly prestigious, and are now respectively the UK’s the fifth and sixth largest food and drink exports by value. By serving English wine and British gin at our embassies and missions wherever possible, we can help promote the sector and create more jobs and growth.”

The gathered dignitaries also heard from the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who attended the British drinks reception to hand out awards to diplomats.

Ambassadors, High Commissioners, senior diplomats and dignitaries were invited to taste some established and new to the market world class home-grown drinks.

With English wine and British gin now proven as world class products the WSTA hope these influential guests will spread the word through state receptions across the globe.

Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Miles Beale, said:

“It was encouraging to hear that more homegrown wine and spirits are being served at British diplomatic service receptions - both home and abroad - since the WSTA began showcasing a range of English sparkling wines and British gins at the FCO’s annual London reception.

"But the strong message coming back to us is that whilst the will is there to serve British it’s not always that easy to get products to far away locations. The WSTA has pledged to continue helping to bridge the gap between demand and supply – not least because our wine and spirit producers need support to achieve their full potential, especially in export markets.

"With all the current challenges to international trade, it is even more crucial that our Ambassadors and High Commissioners are flying the flag for our quality British gin and English wine and raising the profile for brand Britain’s premium products.”

In 2018 over 73 million bottles of gin, worth over £2 billion, were sold in the UK, almost doubling in value in two years.

Last year was also a record-breaking year for British gin exports as sales of the quintessentially British spirit abroad reached over £600 million.

More and more nations are clamouring for the sought-after spirit, with 139 countries now bulk buying British gin.

If you add exports to sales at home, it adds up to over £2.7bn - putting British gin within touching distance of becoming a £3 billion industry.

In 2018 HMRC records showed that the number of distilleries in England overtook distilleries registered in Scotland for the first time.

There are a total of 361 distilleries making spirits in the UK, with 54 opening in 2018 – the equivalent of one a week. 166 distilleries are in England, 160 in Scotland, 19 in Wales and 16 in Northern Ireland.

Last year was also a standout year for English wine as the heatwave meant a vintage year for both quality and quantity, with a record-breaking yield equating to 15.6 million bottles of still and sparkling wine. This compares to 5.9 million in 2017.

The UK wine industry is proving to be one of the fastest expanding wine regions in the world after seeing the biggest planting of vines on record this year.

The latest planting figures show that around 3 million vines were planted this year, a 24% increase in the overall land now under vine. This is nearly double that planted last year and three times the 1 million vines planted in 2017, making the wine industry one of the fastest-growing agricultural sectors in the UK.

On offer at the reception, which was well attended by dignitaries on Tuesday, 11th June, were four different English sparkling wines and six different British gins.

All of the brands have one thing in common in addition to their collective excellence – all products on offer on the night were from producers looking to expand their export markets.
The WSTA represents an industry worth around £50 billion to the UK and supports over half a million British jobs. 

WSTA appoints new Chairman

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, Michaelis 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.”

English and Welsh whisky is flying off the shelves ahead of Father’s Day

English and Welsh whisky makers are struggling to keep up with demand for the sought-after spirit after first releases sell out overnight.

In the run up to Father’s Day, some English whisky makers have found themselves out of stock after selling out almost immediately on release, meaning that any dads receiving English whisky as a gift this weekend should count themselves very lucky indeed.

With new-make spirit needing to be matured for a minimum of three years in wooden casks before it can legally be termed ‘whisky’, the enormous interest in English whisky is good news for producers who began crafting the spirit several years ago.

The “ginnaisance” has attracted a whole new audience of people keen to try new spirit experiences meaning investors have been more willing to invest in craft distilleries allowing an English and Welsh whisky market to emerge.

Ashley Hunka from East London Liquor Company said:

“We sold out of our first release of London Rye® Whisky as soon as we released it in December and had to limit sales to one per person. Not to worry, we’re continuing to make more, but instead of a bottle of whisky this Father’s Day, we’ll be offering both gin and whisky tours throughout the day.”

Karl Bond founder of Forest Distillery said:

“We have just started our journey in whisky making and have only produced a small amount so far. However, what I can tell you is that our first 2 releases sold out within 24 hours.”

Adnams have got whisky available but you need to get in quick for a last-minute Father’s Day gift because their exports are on the up.

Adnams Head Distiller John McCarthy said:

“We produce our whisky from our state-of-the-art Copper House distillery in Southwold. We have seen a growth in our export of whisky made from locally sourced grains. All our releases are a minimum of five years old. Adnams exported three times the amount of our spirits in 2018 as in 2017 and more than 22,000 people took a distillery and/or brewery tour or signed up to make your own gin last year.”

Dan Szor, founder of Cotswolds Distillery, says they have had to up their production to keep up with demand, he said:

“We are now listed in Waitrose and approaching 1,000 Greene King Pubs, testament to the fact that major retailers in both the on and off trade see this as a category to back. Our whisky is now available in 31 countries globally, from a standing start in October 2018, and we have increased our bottling by 25% in 2019 to keep up with demand.’

Welsh whisky makers Penderyn have a large expansion programme in place in order to keep up with growing demand.

Stephen Davies, Penderyn CEO said:
“We have introduced two new lines this year, Penderyn Grand Slam 2019 Edition and Royal Welsh Whisky, and demand for our products is increasing year on year. Penderyn’s sales went up by 17% in 2018, and we now export to around 40 different countries.”

Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Miles Beale, said:

“If you are lucky enough to get hold of a bottle of English whisky on Father’s Day we hope you treasure it. The UK spirits industry is a real success story and Britain now boasts 361 distilleries with a wave of exciting new Welsh and English distillery projects. Our innovative and skilled spirit makers should be encouraged to invest and increase production, so the Chancellor can start by redressing the UK’s excessively high duty rates. Some consumers will be surprised to hear that they pay a whopping £8.05 on duty per 700 ml bottle of whisky at 40% abv. We hope the next Chancellor, whoever that may be, supports our great British distiller’s by reducing duty rates.”

Last year the WSTA launched an English and Welsh Whisky Trail to celebrate the growth of a sector that lay dormant for more than a century.
English whisky dates back to at least the 17th Century, but dried up when the last producer closed their distillery doors back in the early 1900’s. The English whisky drought ended 100 years later when a Cornish distiller decided to revive the craft.
Inspired by the success of the London and Scotland Gin Trails as well as our English wine trail, our team have drawn up a map showing the rapid spread of whisky makers in England and Wales.
361 distilleries - of which 166 are in England compared to 160 distilleries based in Scotland.

For centuries Scotland has dominated the spirit making world thanks to the popularity and rich history of Scotch Whisky.

However, the gin boom has helped the number of UK distilleries to more than double in the last five years with HMRC issuing 31 new distillery licences in England in 2018 compared to just 11 in Scotland.

Today, there are at least 20 distilleries across England and Wales producing whisky.

Both Scottish and English whisky production is governed by EU regulations, although Scotland has an additional, much tighter layer of control – the Scotch Whisky Regulations.

This allows whisky producers in England great freedom to innovate – whilst some favour traditional Forsyths stills used in Scotch production, some distilleries are turning to different stills, and when paired with an assortment of grains and casks, the revitalised English whisky sector has the potential to create new, unique and exciting whiskies.


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