Our Experts – Colette Fourie-Wignall & David Wilkinson (Priority Sales Team)

This June sees Enotria&Coe expand our Regional Sales offering by launching a brand-new team: Priority Sales. The purpose of this team is to focus on our accounts which are currently smaller in size and work with them to develop our partnership by providing a dedicated service with support and advice. We are delighted therefore to introduce Colette Fourie-Wignall and David Wilkinson, who make up the Priority Sales Team. Between them they have a combined total of over 25 years in the wine industry, with experience ranging from wine retail, customer service, and sales support.

Tell us a bit about your journey in Enotria and how you got to where you are today

David Wilkinson: So, I joined Enotria&Coe in June 2021 straight after the pandemic, having spent 5 years in hospitality through a really tough period for the industry. I started out in Enotria’s Customer Service Team, getting to grips with the way Enotria worked and understanding hospitality from a different point of view.

After about a year I succeeded in getting a promotion to the Sales Operations Department, which was a very different experience to my time in Customer Services. My skillset became far more specialised, as the role looked at supporting our National accounts, as well as looking after our Regional Sales Teams. I helped support VIP accounts, like Carnival Cruises, Gaucho Restaurants and Malmaison & Hotel du Vin. This role was perfect for developing my attention to detail and processes that have allowed us to expand many of these accounts in recent months.

This year sees Enotria&Coe launching our new Priority Sales Department. After two years in Sales Operations, this June will see me progress my career further by joining this new sales team, where we will look to build up the smaller accounts in both value and relationship.

Colette, you joined the Enotria&Coe team less than a month ago. How are you settling into the role?

Colette Fourie-Wignall: It has been an exciting few weeks for me. I dove into the business, absorbing everything and trying to learn as much as possible. I went to the Great Wine Company in Bath in my first week for a couple of days and got to see most of the Enotria portfolio “in the flesh.” Have to say, the wine business is such a small world… the first customer that walked into the GWC store was one of my old retail customers from when I worked in Windsor… The visit to the Great Wine Company was a fantastic opportunity to educate myself on the origin of the wines, spirits and sparkling wines, which is still ongoing.

All the colleagues I have met so far have been more than helpful and great to work with. They are always willing to answer all my questions and advice where needed. I’m looking forward to working with David in nurturing and fostering the smaller accounts and my new wine journey with Enotria&Coe.

How did you get into the wine trade?

Colette: About 19 years ago, my work visa was about the expire and having made some lovely friends (and meeting my future husband), I decided to apply for a student visa to stay in the UK a little bit longer. I picked a random wine course at the Wine Academy in London and couldn’t believe how vast the wine world was and realised the wine industry might be the career path I would want to pursue. My first wine job was a Wine Advisor role in 2007 at the new flagship store for Laithwaites Wine in Virginia Water. After a couple of years, I decided to split my days between the Virginia Water and Beaconsfield stores and eventually worked my way up to Assistant Manager. During this time, I also passed my WSET Levels 2 and 3 courses. In 2017 I was appointed Store Manager at the Laithwaites Windsor store, which was a great opportunity, increasing Fine Wines and Trade sales by 70% over a period of two years and hosting great wine tasting evenings for our customers. I ran the shop solo for a few months during lockdown, which was an experience(!) and I also decided to do a refresher course of WSET Spirits Level 2, where I fell in love with cocktail making, especially a very Dirty Martini. I cherished the interactions with new and existing customers in retail, but for a better work-life balance, I decided to move into the Corporate Department as Account Executive in 2022, where I supported the Account, Wholesale and International Managers and performed account specific administrative tasks for 18 months up until February ’24.

It is great to be back in a role at Enotria&Coe where I’m more involved in the wine side of the industry and being able to recommend new and exciting wines, spirits and sparkling wines to our wide range of clients.

David: I started my wine career back in 2019. I completed my A-Levels, but decided that university wasn’t for me and instead spent two years training in Hospitality qualifications. My first job was at a 4-star hotel in Kent. The Restaurant Manager I worked under at the time was highly passionate about his wine, having previously been at Read’s Fine Dining restaurant (something of an institution in Kent). He kickstarted my interest, which was further spurred on after my experience at The British Embassy in Paris: the Head Butler is an encyclopaedia on wines and treated me to some very fine examples during my time there.

During my hospitality career I have held the unofficial Sommelier roles in the various places I have worked at, taking an interest in all wines, but particularly those from France and England. The one thing that lacked during this time was a formal education in wines and the support of my employers to help provide that; it wasn’t until I joined Enotria&Coe that I was able to explore the wine world with far more freedom and support than I ever received in 5 years in the trade. That support and knowledge has helped me to move through 3 positions in as many years, which would not have been possible otherwise.

The Priority Sales team is new for Enotria&Coe. Why was it important to create this team?

David: The Priority Sales Team was created to help deal with the large number of smaller accounts that we have on our books, currently around 500-600. By taking these on (out of the sphere of the Regional Sales Force) we are able to give them attention that the Regional teams simply can’t, given their travel requirements. We are also in a position to successfully build the accounts to such a point that they can be handed back to the Regional Sales force, who can then provide a more tailored approach according to their individual requirements.

What does the year ahead look like?

David: We will spend the rest of 2024 settling into the role and getting to know our account base. By splitting them into relevant internal channels, this will help us to see what type of support they will need from simply being a point of contact should they need it, to actively managing the account, similarly to the rest of the Sales Force. As we proceed towards the end of this year, inevitably the 2025 price increase will loom, and we will be planning our approach for this given the unique position that these accounts fall into. Ranging from Indies and less dependent accounts, who may be better suited to a more standardised approach to those on-trade accounts, who require a more customised approach based on their spend level and listings they have with us.

Why should a customer partner with Enotria&Coe to build their wine and spirits list?

Colette: Enotria&Coe has got an amazing heritage that has been built up over the last 50 years. The extensive portfolio which includes wonderful sustainability sourced products which was expertly chosen, will suit all our customers’ needs, whether it’s looking for house wines, Fine Wines or Premium spirits.

David: When a customer partners with Enotria&Coe they gain access to a unique and wide selection of wines and spirits that have an amazing story behind each producer. We also have a huge number of Agency producers that means our customers are receiving an experience that they simply can’t get anywhere else. Our Agency producers are exclusive to Enotria&Coe in the UK market and that exclusivity is a huge benefit in the premium end of the industry. Furthermore, the stories behind our producers are as unique as their products, from 100% Sustainable growing and farming, to having the ability to provide an entire capital city with most of its electricity supply all year round.

Aside from the impeccable product offering, Enotria&Coe’s relationships with both their customers and their producers is incredibly strong, despite the turmoil that has faced the hospitality and drinks industries over the last few years. We are in the Top 20 of suppliers favoured by Indies and smaller off-trade accounts, which is testament to the hard work everyone at Enotria has put in.