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mardi, 05 mai 2015

VINS DU MONDE

 VINS DU MONDE: THE RISE AND FALL ….. 

OR CHRONICLE OF A DEATH FORETOLD


Claude Gilois

 

It might appear presumptuous to borrow from Balzac and Marquez two of their expressions to describe the rise and the demise of a small commercial company, but creating a business in the mid-1990s to attempt to sell exclusively non-French wines into France was indeed a formidable task, as  there was no market for these wines at that time.    Having witnessed the business grow beyond expectations and to now see it being whittled away is a sorry sight, eventhough it was highly predictable due to the manner in which the change of management was carried out.

 

A large number of readers know that the writer of this blog was the creator of Vins Du Monde in 1996 and was managing director until 2010 when his mandate and that of the other directors was not renewed by the majority shareholders, the conglomerate Lavinia/Cosmofi, who took 50,18% shares in 2000 while the directors/shareholders retained 49,82%.

 

However, the situation of the business in 2008 was positive, there was a capital of €835,000 in the business, well in excess of the €672,000 invested when Lavinia/Cosmofi joined the shareholding. The business had even managed to absorb the 2008 global financial crisis with a small profit.  Vins Du Monde was the undisputed leader in the distribution of non-French wines in France and had been described by Jancis Robinson as “an exceptional importer of non-French wines into France”.   The turnover was around €2.5 to €3 million a year without any contribution from the Lavinia shops, who had stopped buying their foreign wines from Vins Du Monde.   In fact, the business was being consumed internally by a shareholders’ conflict, which resulted in the majority shareholder suing the directors/shareholders no less than seven times without achieving any gain; while the directors won substantial damages in one assignation.

 

However, this is the way a business works and the time for polemics may have passed, but the reader might be frustrated if we did not indicate the nature of such a damaging conflict.  It is best described as a conflict of two philosophies, the one from the majority shareholder who felt that the business belonged to him as long as he had the majority shareholding and could do anything he wanted, against a more ethical and balanced view held by the shareholding directors, probably naively, that the power within a business must be in proportion with the shareholding held.

 

So what happened since the directors were so inelegantly removed?  It is best to consult the “end of year results” published by the commercial court:  they speak for themselves.

 

 

PERIOD

July 2012-July 2013

July 2011-July 2012

July 2010-July 2011

July 2009-July 2010

July 2008-July 2009-

Old Management

 

 

 

 

New Management

Turnover

1 737 500€

2 177 031 €

2 103 297 €

2 276 722 €

2 212 448 €

Net Results

-241 500 €

-291 435 €

-364 441 €

-162 997 €

2 215 €

 

 

So, in less than four years the capital of the business has disappeared. Furthermore, the losses in 2013 amount to €1,06,0373 million. How can a business take such a turn for the worse in such a short time?  Well, by removing the managing team the business lost its intellectual capital and in such a specialised field was not replaceable. In the absence of credible replacements in the management a large number of producers transferred their distribution elsewhere further aggravating the problems for Vins Du Monde, from which they have never recovered.

 

This year Vins Du Monde has not published an end of year result, which legally should have been submitted to the court by the end of December 2014, but the losses are very likely to be of the same order as previous years.

 

Vins Du Monde has even lost its undisputed No. 1 spot in the distribution of  non-French wines in France.   Valade and Transandine has now taken this role with more than €2 million annual turnover and €75,000 of profit.

 

All it would take is an ambitious importer/distributor to capture the remaining flagship domains and bring this “paper tiger” to its knees.


PS: Exceptionally, no comment on this article will be accepted in this blog. 

 

 

 

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