Constellation pulls out of LIWF

Some of the industry’s biggest players have withdrawn from this year’s London International Wine Fair amid pressure to cut costs and review their investment programmes.

The UK’s biggest supplier, Constellation Europe, has shelved plans to exhibit due to “current economics”, though it will take a stand at Germany’s ProWein in Dusseldorf next month.

James Lousada, senior vice-president marketing and business development for Constellation Australia and Europe said: “Constellation Europe has decided not to participate. This is part of our strategy to deliver future growth and profitability by reducing costs.

“This decision is based on current economics and is not a reflection of the quality of the fair.”

Gallo is also pulling out to focus on other activities and events, but hasn’t ruled out returning next year.

Gallo’s PR manager Mairead Quinn said: “We’re doing things a bit differently this year. There are lots of other events we’re participating in. We’re working with customers and media in different ways.”

PLB said it would be there but will only take a stand every other year, to alternate with Vinexpo in Bordeaux.

Managing director Peter Darbyshire said: “We will support every non-Vinexpo year while the trade thinks [the London International Wine Fair] is a good thing. But I still think the trade should question the outlay. If you run a good fair, you’re looking at around £150,000.

“We see our customers all the time, so you have to question the value of it. The fair is a huge cash drain when our industry is desperate for cash. What should we be doing – employing people or going to fairs?”

Another major supplier, who will be absent in May, added: “Margins are under real pressure and the trade is under huge strain. We can’t afford to support fairs.”

Brand Phoenix will not attend for the second year running and Thierry’s has also decided not to take its own stand.

Thierry’s commercial director Matthew Dickinson said: “This is simply a pragmatic business decision as we invest heavily in our sales resource in 2010.”

Diageo said it was “still considering its plans”. However, its wine division, Percy Fox, has confirmed it will be exhibiting, alongside Pernod Ricard, Australian Vintage, Hatch Mansfield, Reh Kendermann and Mentzendorff.

Adrian Atkinson, wine development director for Pernod Ricard UK, said: "The LIWF is a key event in our wine trade calendar. This year we are increasing the size of our stand to maximise our impact over the three day event as we showcase our wines and spirits portfolio to a key trade audience.

"As a global business, the event provides us with a vital opportunity to introduce our winemakers to the trade, showcase NPD and conduct business face-to-face with our UK and international customers."

Neil Barker, Foster’s EMEA commercial director for the UK & Ireland, said it would be at the fair, but with a reduced area.

Exhibition director James Murray said: “We know how tough the market is. There are companies which we’ve lost, but they haven’t written the fair off forever. “Year on year, companies do dip out while others increase their presence. It’s not all doom and gloom from our side. We want everyone on board, but trading conditions are tremendously tough.

“No one should expect to see a smaller event in May. With it being our 30th anniversary, and all the additional efforts we’re making in international marketing, it will be a great event.”

Dan Jago, Tesco’s category director for beers, wines and spirits, said: “Their absence won’t impact on their dealings with Tesco at all – we would expect to have discussed all important business on an ongoing basis rather than saved it up for mid-May.

"The fair is very relevant for some of the smaller retailers, independents and on-trade, but for us, it is a chance to catch up with people we don’t see frequently.”