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Top Spanish wines tipped for growth in Asia

Published:  02 June, 2014

Antique Wine Company predicts that Spanish wines are heading for major growth in the Asian fine wine market, driven by the rapidly expanding Philippine market.

The firm is focusing its energy on the Asian market, expecting sales to grow from 40% currently account for 55% of its business within two years. It grew by 23% between 2009 and 2013.

Stephen Williams, Antique Wine Company's chief executive, told "This is a very important time in our company's growth. It's very much driven by emerging markets, especially in the Philippines. We see it as a significant opportunity."

Stephen Williams, chief executive Antique Wine CompanyStephen Williams, chief executive Antique Wine CompanyThe Philippines is a rapidly growing fine wine market, says Stephen Williams, chief executive Antique Wine Company, with a particular taste for top Spanish wines.

Looking at the Philippines, Williams said 20% of the wines consumed there were from Spain, while France made up just 5% of sales.

He said AWC's sales mix has changed dramatically in the past few years, moving from 70% red Bordeaux; 20% Burgundy and 10% other to less than 50% Bordeaux; 30% Italian; 10% Burgundy and 10% from Spain.

"We expect Spain to grown significantly over the next two years - at the moment Vega Sicilia, Pingus and the ultra premium wines from Rioja and Ribera del Duero are driving this. But we're also looking for more medium-level wines from Penedes and Priorat."

Williams explained that the Philippine economy was growing at a significant rate: "There are now four major hotels in Manila that have opened or are due to open in the next three to four years. The indigenous population is becoming increasingly sophisticated in their consumption. It's a market we very much want to take a role in. Having spent the last two years establishing our logistics facilities, we now have a temperature-controlled warehouse. That enables us to deliver wine under perfect conditions. We're very keen to build a portfolio of prestigious brands there."

For that reason the firm has added Jean Philippe Guillot as sales director for the Asian markets. He joins from Bernard Magrez Grands Vignobles Proprietaire where he was export director for Asia and previously sales manager.

Speaking from Vinexpo in Hong Kong last week, Williams described that event as as "very big and successful". He said there were still opportunities in Asia, despite the "effect of the significant slowdown as a result of the lack of conspicuous consumption driven by the government crackdown on extravagant gift-giving". "Clearly consumers have become much more value sensitive. We're finding very strong demand for the lesser grands crus like Lynch Bages and Léoville Las Cases. We're finding a market that's become much more diverse. It now looks for the top Italian, Spanish and Burgundy wines, as well as Bordeaux."

He said the UK market was "sluggish by comparison", after being driven by London's financial services, "it's not recovered", Williams said. "It was very Bordeaux-centric and I don't see a recovery for some time in London."

But he said the on-trade was proving more resilient.