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London restaurants: Top 10 changes in 25 years

What are the 10 biggest changes to London s restaurant wine business over the past 25 years? One seasoned salesman shares his views with db.

London Restaurants: Top 10 Changes In 25 YearsIf there is one London-based brand manager and sales director who knows the capital s restaurant sector brilliantly, then it s Alan Montague-Dennis (pictured below).

The endlessly cheery head of prestige sales at Mentzendorff, the UK distributor of famous brands from Bollinger to Taylor s, is this month celebrating 25 years at the company, and 32 years in the wine trade and, to mark the occasion, he tells db about some of the most notable developments in London s on-trade wine sector during his career.

London Restaurants: Top 10 Changes In 25 YearsThis is certainly someone who knows the city s on-trade intimately, having eschewed the temptation to conduct business remotely using technology, and continued to set up and finalise deals face-to-face, whether it s with London s most influential restaurateurs, or the little-known brains behind the capital s many new openings. As a result, he s one of the first through the doors of the city s latest on-premise initiatives, or number one when it comes to spotting changes among London s long-established outlets. In essence, Alan has seen the changing face of dining in this culinary capital first-hand over the past 25 years, and that s because he always visits his clients.

As he tells db, In the early days, business would be conducted over lunch, which could last a long time, and deals would be done on a handshake. In contrast, today, he says, It s easy to spend a lot of time caught up in email chains. Nevertheless, due to disciplined time management and long working hours, Alan ensures he still does his business in person, because it s the best approach.

There s still a lot to be said for actually seeing someone wine brings people together, and then you can understand more about where their business wants to be, and how you, as a supplier, can fit the days of wearing out shoe leather are far from over, he states. And, one suspects that Alan s successful and lengthy career in the wine trade owes as much to his sales ability as it does his attachment to the sector.

Admitting his fondness for the trade and its personalities, he says, The wine trade is a profession that enriches your life on every level, and in a way that I don t think any other profession can compare: it enables you to travel and meet such a wide variety of people, so you can experience a Champagne lifestyle on beer money. Continuing, he states, Others may have Champagne money, but they have a beer lifestyle, because they are chained to a desk. However, despite the fine wine and food enjoyed by Alan on an almost daily basis, he remains physically fit due to regular running and cycling challenges, and this summer will take part in the first stage of Lawrence Dallaglio[1] Cycle Slam in Spain, the latest in a long tine of annual sporting events undertaken by Alan for example, he has taken part in every Benevolent Bike Ride since this fundraising ordeal was started in 2003 by Mentzendorff MD Andrew Hawes.

Over the following pages we have picked out the 10 most significant changes to the on-trade wine business over the past 25 years, according to Alan, while below is a snapshot of Alan s career in the wine trade:

Alan joined Mentzendorff in January 1991 and celebrates 25 years at the company this month. His roles at this company are as follows:

Director of Prestige Sales
Mentzendorff & Co Ltd
May 2012 Present (3 years 9 months)

Prestige Business Manager
Mentzendorff & Co Ltd
January 2000 May 2012 (12 years 5 months)

Regional Sales Manager
Mentzendorff & Co Ltd
1995 1999 (4 years) South of England, Midlands and The North of England

National Account Manager
Mentzendorff & Co Ltd
January 1991 1995 (4 years)

Before Alan worked at Mentzendorff he held roles at a range of drinks companies, from Allied Domecq to Majestic Wine.

Prestige Trade Manager
Allied Domecq
January 1988 December 1990 (3 years)

Sales Manager
Hatch Mansfield
1986 1988 (2 years)

Retail Sales Manager
Majestic Wine
1985 1986 (1 year)

Buying Assistant
Saccone and Speed Ltd ( Courage Group )
1984 1985 (1 year)

Alan pursued his passion for wine by going into the wine trade immediately after university, having abandoned the idea of following a career in law.

Slideshow – 10 pages

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  1. ^ Lawrence Dallaglio (www.dallagliofoundation.com)

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