There was a profile in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph of Simon Berry, the latest member of the Berry family to head up the well-known and esteemed wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd.  It was interesting to me on a number of levels.  Firstly, from a professional viewpoint (and in the interests of disclosure) I know that my friend James Warren and a team from the PR company Weber Shandwick where he ploughs his professional furrow have recently started working with Berry Bros, so I assume the profile had something to do with them!  Secondly, of course, I have known of Berry Bros and been a regular visitor to its website (though never actually bought anything) for a good while, so it was good to discover something about the man (and family) behind the busines and the business itself.

For instance, probably the most surprising thing to me was that the majority of Berry Bros & Rudd’s current annual turnover of £205m comes not from the sale of wine but from the sale of Cutty Sark whisky, which the company created in 1923!  Wine sales “only” account for about £60m, though this figure represents a tenfold increase since 1992 and contributes more than half of the group’s operating profit (£6.69m).

I popped into Berry Bros & Rudd’s London shop during my recent trip to the UK.  I’d never been in, though had often seen the outside when whsitling through St. James in a late-night cab out of the West End when I used to live in Chiswick, west London.  It’s a fantastic little building to visit – Berry Bros & Rudd has been in it since 1698 and it’s nicely crooked and weathered – and sits in an historic part of London.  It’s good for a browse but won’t take up too much of your time as there isn’t a huge stock in the shop itself (even if, as you’d expect, the stock is of excellent quality).  I’m sure a proper aficionado could spend hours chatting with the staff though.

I guess many people’s contact with Berry Bros & Rudd comes through the company’s website.  It’s a very useful resource, but I’d like to see it brought band up to date (technology-wise).  You can sign up to a mailing list but I’d love to see some sort of blog or feeds.  I’m sure Mr Warren – as new media guru extraordinaire – is onto it.

It’s good to see Berry Bros & Rudd doing well (though I do sometimes worry that they’re a little bit tied to images of City boys rushing to spend bonuses on en primeur wines!) as it’s an important part of the UK wine scene.

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