WSTA appoints new chair and deputy chair

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Mark Riley (L) and Pierpaolo Petrassi

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has announced a new Chair, Mark Riley of Edrington UK, who will be supported by Pierpaolo Petrassi from Waitrose, in what is a new position as deputy chair.

The pair follow Michael Saunders’, chief executive of Bibendum Wines, three-year term as chair and 10 years on the board. Saunders was also chair of the Drinks Trust trade charity.

The trade body said the new chair and deputy chair will continue Saunders’ recruitment drive to ensure that the WSTA has the most diverse membership providing a strong, united voice within the trade. They will look to encourage more spirit businesses, wholesalers and independents into the fold.

As well as keeping a close eye on the traditional categories the new team will also encourage more work in the low/no sector, mixing of categories and into efforts to help guide the sector down the environmental path to Net Zero.

The board said they are keenly aware that more work needs to be done to encourage better diversity within the sector and the WSTA hopes to seek out more ‘future’ leaders and board non-principal candidates.

Mark Riley said: “It is clear the industry faces significant challenges, and my primary focus will be to ensure that the WSTA meets these head on, as it always has done, capably guiding both its members and the government through an ever-changing trading landscape. It is vital the industry continues to speak with one voice, and we embrace changes that need to be made in areas such as sustainability, diversity and inclusion.”

Riley has worked in the premium spirits industry for 25 years and as managing director at Edrington UK he has led the business through significant growth and accelerated change. Prior to joining Edrington UK he held various senior sales and customer marketing roles within Beam Inc and Diageo.

With almost 40 years’ experience in the wine and spirit industry, Pierpaolo Petrassi – currently head of trading at Waitrose – became Master of Wine in 2007 and has been consistently placed top five in trade magazine polls for most influential people in wine. He previously held roles in Carnevale Group, International Wine Services, Waverley TBS (2003-2007) and Tesco.

Petrassi said: “I am delighted to take on the new role as deputy chair and supporting Mark as he takes the helm.  These have been some of the most tumultuous times in our industry, but with challenge comes innovation, fresh ideas and progress and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store for the coming months.”

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, commented: “We warmly welcome Mark as chair and Pierpaolo as deputy chair, providing us with leadership from two titans of the wine and spirit trade. We are incredibly lucky to have such experienced people at the WSTA helm giving the WSTA more access and insight across the industry at a time when we need it most. The combination of producer and retailer, spirits and wine, brings to the board the perfect cocktail of credentials which we need to help the trade recover, rebuild and robustly take on the challenges ahead.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Michael Saunders for being an extremely dedicated chair, whose combination of sound advice, direction and dogged determination to boost recruitment has meant the WSTA has been encouraged to grow and move into new ventures.”