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Interview, Part 2: Treasury Wine Estates Americas President Ben Dollard

September 20, 2022

In the second part of our interview, Treasury Wine Estates Americas president Ben Dollard discusses the outlook for Penfolds in the U.S., the company’s distributor profile, e-commerce, and how he sees the wine industry evolving in the coming years.

SND: What does the future look like for the Penfolds brand in the U.S.? How have Penfolds’ California-sourced wines been received?

Dollard: I’m very optimistic with regards to the opportunity for Penfolds, and we’re seeing it now. The brand has tremendous awareness and recognition among the trade here in the U.S., and it’s evolving in emerging recognition with our consumers. So, for the long-term, we see the U.S. market as a key pillar of growth for Penfolds. It was a 20-year process in terms of the creation of the Penfolds California Collection, but we were thrilled to release it last year, because it gives us an opportunity to tell the Penfolds story to consumers who love California wine. We’re very fortunate that we have access to some amazing vineyards here in Napa Valley and down in Paso Robles, and it’s with that resource that we were able to develop those wines. I believe that Penfolds has a great runway of growth here, so I’m really bullish.

SND: Treasury has made a few moves in terms of its wholesaler footprint in the U.S. in recent years. How have those panned out, and do you foresee more potential changes?

Dollard: We’re with RNDC now in California, and really the key opportunity there was for us to expand with our luxury portfolio specifically into a broader set of accounts, and RNDC gives us that capability. We’re through year one of the transition and I’d suggest we’re making really good progress, but with a lot of opportunity ahead. But largely across the rest of the country we’ve had relationships that are very longstanding and we expect those relationships to continue. That’s a pillar of how we see our growth.

SND: How is TWE addressing the e-commerce and DTC areas of the market? Do you see significant growth opportunity there?

Dollard: It’s very clear to us that the consumer is thirsty for experiences with their brands, and so we’re fortunate with the wineries in our portfolio, and Frank Family coming in now is an amazing experience up there in Calistoga. I see the DTC component of our business as very complementary to everything we’re doing across the country. We engage with our consumers here in Napa, and then there’s a very good likelihood that they’ll go out and enjoy our wine in their home market. The amount of consumers we’re starting to see now into our tasting rooms is really encouraging.

We’ve also worked hard over the last two years to enhance our capability around how we talk to our consumers from a digital standpoint, and worked with our wholesalers to pick up the pace on e-commerce, and specifically how we think about not only our consumer but also our retail partners, and really accelerating from an omnichannel perspective in collaboration with our distributors.

SND: What is your big-picture view on how the wine market will evolve, and what vital trends will shape it?

Dollard: I’m optimistic as ever with regards to the outlook for our industry. I think about some of the key areas that we’re focused on as a company specifically around sustainability and how that is part of our DNA. We don’t refer to it as a project; it’s what we do all day, every day. Consumers are looking for ways to engage in that conversation around corporate responsibility as well, specifically with regards to the footprint that we have in the environment. So that’s one thing.

I also think about the next generation of consumers and how we’re engaging with them, and we’ve seen that engagement with our collaboration with Snoop and also with Martha, in terms of introducing wine to a new audience. So I think for our industry, our ability to be relevant and to tell our story and to make sure that the engagement they’re having with our brands is really exciting, to me is where the opportunity lies for the next five or 10 years. I think we’ll have our best days ahead as an industry.

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