Late last week, Freixenet Copestick announced a distribution partnership with South Australia’s Wakefield Wines (pictured). The move sees Clare Valley-based Wakefield switch from Louis Latour – and deepens Freixenet Copestick’s commitment to a new agency strategy.
Speaking to Drinks Retailing, Freixenet Copestick managing director Robin Copestick said the deal follows others including New Zealand’s Wither Hills and South Africa’s Spier Wine Farm in 2022.
“One of the areas that we’ve been changing for the last few years at Freixenet Copestick is to develop an agency strategy for blue chip wineries from around the world – New Zealand, Australia and South Africa in particular,” he said. “We know that we’ve got two of the biggest brands in the UK in Freixenet and I Heart, but having a more diverse portfolio will enhance our sales of group products, and also make us more relevant to the big retailers and on-trade companies.”
He also highlighted an increasing omnichannel presence for the company.
“We need to work with blue chip wineries around the world to bolster the portfolio of Jascots – which is selling to premium restaurants and Slurp – which sells direct to consumers,” he added. “As a true omnichannel distributor, we need to work with other wineries apart from the ones that are group-owned by Henkell Freixenet.”
Copestick said the Wakefield deal is an “easy transition” for the producer, as the wines are “already widely distributed among our customer base”.
He added: “They will add some real value to Jascots and to Slurp, and I think our team can also create a lot of new business for them. So, it’s a win-win for both parties.”
Slurp and English wine estate Bolney make up around 3% each of the company’s turnover, with Jascots around 7-8%. Copestick described the divisions as “small but growing”, while also “adding prestige and relevance to the whole portfolio”.
He said Slurp is trading at 60% ahead of the prior year for October and November. He described growth as “purely organic”.
“We’re not going out into the market and aggressively acquiring new customers,” he explained. “We think a lot of that increased business is coming from a loyalty scheme we introduced around this time last year. We also have extremely good ratings on Trustpilot.”
He also suggested that Slurp’s online competitors have “not been as aggressive in the market themselves”.
“Those three factors are helping to naturally grow our business,” he said.
Elsewhere, Copestick flagged a raft of personnel changes.
Fellow managing director Damian Clarke was promoted to chief sales officer for Henkell Freixenet around six months ago – and Copestick has also been asked to take on additional responsibilities in the Benelux and Nordic markets.
“So, for both of us, that’s an increased workload. While we both will continue to manage the UK business jointly, we made the decision to promote Helena Martin to sales director last year, and very recently Lucy Auld has been promoted to marketing director. In turn, this has paved the way for other internal promotions, so we have some nice progression in the company.”