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Business - May 28, 2019

‘I think wine is in my blood’

“I assume wine is in my blood,” says Lizzy Rudd.

“When dad came domestic [at night] he by no means mentioned work, so I ought to have turn out to be fascinated via osmosis.”

Ms Rudd, 52, has for the reason that 2017 been chairman of BBR, the UK’s oldest wine merchant. The business enterprise is owned among the Rudd and the Berry families.

Based in the upmarket St James’s place of critical London, the commercial enterprise has had a shop there given that 1698.

A employer with an undeniably posh popularity, around it are numerous private individuals golf equipment, two of the United Kingdom’s most specific cigar shops, and a shop wherein you may purchase a made-to-degree shotgun ahead of the begin of the grouse shooting season.

 

In Ms Rudd’s grand however pretty comfortable office a portrait of her father John, chairman until 2000, dominates one of the partitions.

It could be clean to assume that BBR is a bastion of male-led way of life, however the original business enterprise turned into truly commenced via a female. And Ms Rudd is the company’s 2nd lady chairman.

“The commercial enterprise turned into based in 1698 by way of the Widow Bourne,” she says.

“We infrequently recognize something about her, most effective that she set up the shop as a grocers, uploading tea, coffee and extraordinary spices.”

The corporation became promoting wine at least by the start of the nineteenth Century, with its call converting to Berry Bros inside the 1840s, and then to Berry Bros and Rudd a century later in the Nineteen Forties.

After World War Two, Lizzy Rudd’s grandmother Ethel Rudd have become chairman. Had it always been an ambition for her to observe in her nana’s footsteps?

“No, I never assumed that I’d come to be chairman, there was never any strain or expectation that I’d be a part of the business,” says Ms Rudd.

When Ms Rudd first joined the own family firm inside the late Nineteen Eighties it wasn’t in wine, however in spirits. Specifically she first labored within the advertising and marketing department for BBR’s then whisky brand Cutty Sark.

A massive vendor, specially in the Sixties and Seventies, that one product used to account for greater than thirds of BBR’s annual revenues.

Almost a decade after Ms Rudd joined the circle of relatives commercial enterprise she left to concentrate on bringing up her 5 children. In 2005 she again as deputy chairman.

Today BBR has four hundred employees, and an annual turnover of £187m. In addition to its London headquarters, the agency has large warehouses in Hampshire, in which it shops tens of millions of bottles of wine.

What did it take for Ms Rudd to make the step as much as the chairman role? “You’ve got to be an excellent steward of the commercial enterprise, to keep what makes it tick,” she says.

But what does make a 321-year-vintage business tick, and the way has it survived for so long?

“The global’s converting so speedy, how people buy, how human beings drink, so we need to preserve moving and keep up with consumer trends.”

In fact, BBR’s commercial enterprise model has modified markedly over the past decade. In 2010 Cutty Sark changed into offered, so it could attention extra at the wine side of the business.

Nowadays wine makes up ninety% of sales with spirits at 10%. This performs to the corporation’s strengths in keeping with Arabella Mileham, retail editor of the Drinks Business.

“Even folks who don’t know a great deal about the wine industry would understand their call,” says Ms Mileham.

“They have huge logo recognition. The first aspect you suspect of when you point out their call is that historical save front [on St James’s Street].”

But Ms Mileham factors out that there is substance behind the old fashioned picture.

“They wouldn’t have lasted see you later if it hadn’t been for the first-rate,” she says. “You do not get that popularity with out something to back it. They’ve additionally were given a superb crew of wine shoppers, which is vital.”

As the employer appears in advance to its subsequent 3 centuries, Ms Rudd says that Asian markets have become an increasing number of vital. This is meditated within the reality that BBR now has shops in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.

But is it ever tough to steer a enterprise owned by way of distinct households? Ms Rudd says anybody gets along.

“There are 56 shareholders who are typically Berrys and Rudds… [but] the voting does not paintings on the basis of stocks, we make the selections collectively.”

But what happens when disagreements arise?

“Although our personalities are extraordinary, we are generally aligned,” she says. “A lot of us have grown up together, and we are kind of like cousins.

“We do have robust discussions, however it’s now not like a few family relationships wherein there can be tension – these conversations might seem to outsiders like arguments however they are not at all.”