The Call For Leaders interview series enters its third phase, with the established 3Q format receiving a revamp for 2021. The original Call For Leaders 3Q and its sequel, Call For Leaders – Back in Business, have seen us talking to quite a diverse roster of business leaders in Romania, representing top companies and various industries.
Current conversation: Mircea Matei – general manager Villa Vinea
After a difficult 2020 year, how do you think business optimism will be influenced in 2021?
2020 has changed how certain industries, as well as we, as people, perceive optimism. Many businesses have been forced to adjust their expectations, plans and objectives, to the new landscape.
From my perspective, optimism in 2021 relates much more to taking care of your teams and fostering relationships with your partners, clients and suppliers, in a way which enables companies to develop healthy, organic operating models. Keeping people safe – physically, financially and emotionally – and going that extra mile to reassure customers that your products and premises are safe have been priorities for anyone working in the food & beverage industry.
2021 will surely not lack challenges, the pandemic is not over and we need to continue treating it with responsibility, so optimism, from my perspective, means accepting the virus and assessing its impact on business, but optimizing production flows, distribution and sales channels, to ensure realistic objectives are met.
How will your company be involved in the development of your industry, and also in the recovery of other sectors which were affected by the pandemic?
As a member of the premium wine industry of Romania, Villa Vinèa has a strong commitment towards quality. An important objective of ours is to make Romanian wines that may compete with those from Old World countries, such as France and Italy, and increase the country’s reputation as an appreciated winemaker. Our efforts also go into opening new markets and selling our labels in countries like Italy, Poland, Holland, Denmark, Finland, the UK, Canada. Although the pandemic has driven growth in local consumption across the world, we continue to develop relationships with international distributors and to play our part in educating them about Romanian wine regions and grapes. The fact that our Feteasca Regala 2019 was awarded 88 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has enabled us to open the US, as well, and we will soon start deliveries there.
Apart from this, we are also supporting local tourism, by developing projects and packages with other wineries, agencies, and hospitality players in Transylvania. We understand that consumers need a sense of normality and that they need to regain control of their lives, travel and enjoy relaxing activities which are meant to keep them safe, so we decided to adopt a collaborative approach with our peers.
The hospitality industry is the most affected by the pandemic restrictions and we, at Villa Vinèa, have a strong relationship with restaurants, hotels and catering companies. We, thus, support our partners by staying by their side in these difficult times, even if business is down. We understand that some payment deadlines cannot be met and are flexible in this concern, continuing deliveries and offering the best commercial terms we may, so that they don’t need to consistently rethink their wine lists and offering.
How will you approach innovation and new investments in 2021?
We are focused on increasing our products’ quality levels from one year to the other. In spite of a difficult context, we continue to advance steadily in this direction, focusing on premium and superpremium wines. We have already launched our first superpremium blend, Argilla 2016, a limited edition label, which has received excellent feedback, and our two winemakers, Celestino Lucin and Misi Dénes, are consistently working on developing and aging new blends.
In what investments for 2021 are concerned, we are focusing on two main directions. One is increasing our production capacity, as this will offer us more space for wine aging, which will, in return, contribute to our goal of increasing quality. The second, on which we are working in parallel, is our direct-to-consumer channel, the e-shop we launched early 2020, which has proven to be a great tool and which we want to grow in the next months, so that it becomes one of our important sales pillars.