GraysOnline, the Australian online retail and auction company, recently separated its wine offer through the stand-alone GraysWine.com.au. The general manager of the Grays wine division is Simon West, somebody with a lot of ‘skin’ in the wine industry. In a Q&A with Nathan Gogoll, West explains his background in sales and marketing and details how GraysWine wants to work with the wine brands it sells.
Tell us about your career in the wine industry:
Simon West: During my uni days I was working at Northgate House in SA as a barman at weddings. Northgate House was owned and run by Vili and Rosemary Milisits of the ‘Vilis’ bakery enterprise. After my Saturday night shift, Vili would often let me go down to the cellar and choose a wine to share with him.
Eight years with global giant Procter and Gamble dealing with the major retailers, gave me a solid foundation to step into the wine industry. After several years with various wineries in sales and marketing roles, I commenced Fullglass, a consultancy service that provided sales, marketing, branding and strategy advice to wineries, with a big focus on exporting. During this time, I was lucky enough to meet the late Stephen Lumb of Oddbins wine auctions, and I became a sponge to his gentle and non-intimidating approach to wine education. He made a big impression on me and opened my eyes to the way we should be talking to the consumers.
I had a lot of fun over 10 years with various successful projects… helping Sparky Marquis develop and launch Mollydooker globally; launching a unique wine brand in the US called ‘Pizza Red’ with the late Peter Brown (another true gentleman of the industry taken too soon) of Brown Brothers fame; and developing some crazy labels and wines with the Redheads crew in McLaren Vale. Continue reading