Beynat on Vinexpo 2011

Drinks International’s Hamish Smith catches up with Vinexpo CEO Robert Beynat at 2011 show.

What have been the standout moments of Vinexpo 2011?

Everything has gone well. The exhibitors are very happy because the market is strong again. There were a lot of Asian visitors here this week and many more Japanese exhibitors than last time. The more we do in Hong Kong [Vinexpo Asia Pacific], the more Asians we will have [at Vinexpo].

We are not competitors. At LIWF there is mainly British importers and buyers. ProWein is mainly for German importers and buyers. But we do send our own secret people to the other shows.

Should Vinexpo follow LIWF and ProWein’s lead in becoming an annual, not biennial show?

No, it’s enough to have it every other year. It’s too much for the exhibitors to invest every year, and also some of our exhibitors go to Vinexpo Asia Pacific – which is 25% of Vinexpo’s size.

If there was something you could change about this year’s show, what would it be?

The traffic. But it is both disrupting and energising for Bordeaux. Vinexpo is a city in a city. It means more planes in the sky, more trains and more cars on the roads.

I would also like Gallo to be here. They told me they will be here [this year], after [not coming during] the recession. But the European division said 'it’s not for us'. It was the same with Constellation. We don’t need them [Gallo and Constellation] for the money, but we hope they will come back.

What was the turnover of Vinexpo 2011?

€20m. Our spending budget is a little bit less than that though – we are a profitable company!

How has the Vinexpo experience been for you - relaxing or stressful?

It is not relaxing, It is business, it’s serious. But I created Vinexpo so I know the game.

What do you do when the doors to Vinexpo close?

Sleep, relax and [take part in] sport. Bullfighting will be [later] in the summer. My sport is cycling. I own a bicycle that used to be owned by Lance Armstrong. I am not a champion but sometimes I ride fast. It depends on the shape of the road. Descending, I am very fast.

One of the criticisms of Vinexpo are the toilets, will they have improved by 2013?

The hall is 40 years old and it’s owned by the city of Bordeaux. I have fought to get better toilets and there have been new ones built.

It is Vinexpo’s 30th birthday, will you be the CEO for its 40th birthday?

I will as long as I am interested and can travel around the world to meet exhibitors. I prefer to do expositions about wine and spirits than socks and shoes.