Wine industry needs to pool knowledge to reach potential

The potential that is pent up in the wine industry can be released in the pooling of knowledge and resources between competitors, according to Adrian Bridge of Fladgate Partnership.

“The patchwork of different interests that exists in the world of wine often obscures our common areas of interest and gets in the way of cooperation and yet many of the significant challenges that are faced in the wine industry can be overcome by cooperation between competing producers, regions and even countries,” Bridge told wine professionals at Wine Vision 2015.
“There is a need for all of us in this extremely fragmented industry to concentrate on the fact that we do have wider issues that we are all impacted by and we should put the competitive bit aside and think more closely about how we can collaborate,” Bridge said.
Wine companies, Bridge said, should work together in a strategy that seeks to maintain share but grow the pie. In Bridge’s experience, the approach is normally only effective between successful rivals with similar strengths, comparable market shares and common strategic interests.
Bridge practises what he preaches, having teamed up with Fladgate’s “archrivals/ competitors”, the Symington Group, for joint Port tastings.
Bridge cautioned: “This collaboration does need to steer well away from any form of competitive activity that could be misconstrued as collusion. Working with your rivals is fine but you may find that those people that are not involved in that or other people in the industry might view it with suspicion.
“It is very important that this collaboration isn’t seen as price fixing or market sharing or anything that could be misconstrued by government or market regulators.”
Bridge said for this to be achieved, each party must be able to retain its own identity and integrity within the relationship. “It’s extremely important that transparency is there and that transparency has to be laid out very carefully at the outset.”

He added: “Our view is that the advantages of collaboration will generally outweigh the risks associated if the rules are clear and the parties look beyond their immediate goals and look to the medium and long term.”