Shaper: Michael Saunders

“…about eight or nine years ago, we dipped our toes into the spirit’s world, which is something I promised myself and everyone else in the business I’d never do.”

“we are launching a range of sake, which obviously, given the restaurants in London, is going like the clappers.”

“I can’t see myself stopping, let’s put it that way.”

“…we decided to give birth to a new little diffusion business called the Wandering Wine…”

“We’re brewing up some craft beer with a couple of partners; one in bath, one in Cardiff, so we’ve got some interesting product diversification.”

“I always claim the good ideas as my own…”

“Just before Christmas we launched a free app. It’s called Plonk.”

“I don’t know if you go to sporting events? The catering got so much better so the food was good – but if you wanted a decent glass of wine, it generally wasn’t available.”

“We did a big ball, it raised 50 grand in one evening for the charity.”

Michael Saunders, Managing Director, Bibendum Wine

Michael joined Bibendum Wine in 1982, the year the company was founded, following a brief stint working for Sherry Lehmann in New York. Apart from six months working at Chateaux Leoville Barton and Langoa Barton in 1985, Michael has spent the last thirty years building Bibendum into the UK’s most successful independently-owned wine and spirits business.

Michael was responsible for founding Bibendum’s On Trade department in 1986 and its Fine Wine broking desk two years later. Having been made Sales Director in 1988, Michael became Joint Managing Director in 2001 and assumed sole responsibility five years later. Under his tenure, Bibendum’s turnover has dramatically increased and it now supplies every channel of the UK trade from contract catering to multiple grocers, via Michelin-starred restaurants and travel retail. Bibendum was chosen as the supplier of wines (Olympic venues) to the London 2012 Games.

An avid skier and follower of Chelsea football club, Michael was named Drinks Business Man of the Year in 2009 and picked up the Special Achievement award at the 2012 Harpers Wine and Spirits Awards. He is a member of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s Executive Board.

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