Neil Bruce, head of wine for the pub company, described the new four-strong team as “solid wine industry pedigree” with each member of staff trained to Level 4 diploma level.
Team members' expertise would help brewer and pub operator identify wines that work best for the trade and customers, an approach that would be the “antithesis” of the distributor-led push model – where agents for certain wine producers push certain selections on to pubs and restaurants, Bruce explained.
'Don't tie ourselves'
“We buy direct and don’t tie ourselves to one specific brand and we don’t push one brand over another,” he said. “We want to work out what wines you need, how we can activate them for you, what price points you should have, and how we can train your staff.”
Gabrielle Coope, Matt Scowen and Will Phaure have joined the wine sales division to focus mainly on traditional and premium on trade channels as well as developing business through regional wholesalers.
Alex Stevenson will be responsible for wine development in the Fuller’s estate of approximately 400 managed and tenanted pubs and hotels.
Bruce observed the wine market was in a tough situation with “horrendous duty rates”, a change in consumer habits and the increasing popularity of craft ale.
However, he insisted a “massive opportunity” existed in wine for food-led pubs and confirmed that Fuller’s would take a consumer-facing approach to wine lists with no “gobbledygook wine speak”, laced with technical terms.
Simple lists written in an “engaging and informative” way could appeal to those who may otherwise be put off, Bruce said, before adding: “We’re trying to get our managed pubs to a place of excellence in terms of wine albeit in a pub context.
"If we can get there, we can reflect some of that best practice back through tenants and the hundreds of free trade customers that we’ve got.”