France needs a UK body

France needs a single generic body ­representing it in the UK if it is to reassert itself as the number one supplier of wine to the UK market, industry figures have said.

Speakers at the France Under One Roof Thierry’s breakfast debate said having individual regions represented by ­different PR companies and organisations is detrimental to the image of French wine.

OLN wine editor at large Tim Atkin MW said: “Why can’t we have a Wines from France body in the UK? Somebody like a Michael Cox (Wines of Chile) figure who will speak for France and represent it. France needs somebody to give it direction.”

Katie Jones, sales & marketing director at Mont Tauch, added: “For France to come back it would be good to see a French identity in the UK market and see France working as a whole to push the segment.”

Matthew Dickinson, commercial director of Thierry’s, agreed the move was needed and said wine bodies from other countries like Chile and Argentina had achieved a great deal on “minuscule budgets” but that political differences in the winemaking regions of France meant it was unlikely to happen.

Nevertheless, there is cause for optimism in the French wine industry, according to the speakers, who pointed to the country’s 17 per cent market share as evidence of France’s fight back to the top-spot.

Consumers' desire to trade up, an "encouraging" number of brands and healthy competition with New World wines were said to be behind the improving position.

Mont Tauch’s Jones said the success of countries like Australia has forced France to combine its expertise in the vineyard and cellar with a more modern approach to labelling, marketing and selling its wines. “As a producer it has made us look at the quality of what we are producing, to cut out the bottom segment and to concentrate on structuring the range and the offering,” she said.