Shaper: Tony Laithwaite

Show aired on 16th August 2014

Transcript of the show

…he didn’t know an awful lot about business, he basically knew about growing grapes.

…one of them started telling his friends and then I went a did a tasting for them and a couple of those were really nice to me and they told their friends, and so it just kind of started on that basis…

My grandmother was a business woman. She had a small corner shop and she gave me £700, which was quite useful…

these guys in France worked their wotsits off to produce really good stuff..

…she was my girlfriend then and she was always telling me: you know, you are doing it all wrong, and your sums don’t add up and things like that…

I can never claim to be a proper entrepreneur who is a bit of a whizz with business plans and doing clever transactions. I am hopeless at all that.

There wasn’t much encouragement given back then to small businesses, you couldn’t get premises, you couldn’t get loans and stuff…

I love this game, it’s fantastic! Driving down to France every month and collecting wine …well, I couldn’t think of a better way to pass my life.

It was me and the managing director and we got to a point where we couldn’t really look each other in the eye and talk, you know?

Down to earth is all I can do.

There was another guy call Maurice who had started with a bicycle and built a big business all across France and he gave me lots of advice

Quality, Tony. Never forget the quality, the quality.

I always wanted to be able to play Boogie piano and I can’t.

Tony Laithwaite

Tony Laithwaite chose to work and study Bordeaux’s wine industry as part of his geography degree. The rest, as they say, is history!

Tony’s time spent in Bordeaux gave him an idea. In 1969, he started with a small van and the idea of bringing ‘real’ wines – wines of total authenticity and strong character – and delivering them directly to UK customers. This started from Bordeaux and grew from there – hence the original company name; ‘Bordeaux Direct’ which – to avoid confusion – became ‘Laithwaites Wines’ in 2000.

Now, 40 years on, that original idea is exactly the same; it is the heart of Tony’s Company. But Laithwaite Wine now works with hundreds of outstanding wine producers around the world and corresponds regularly with about a million customers in the U.K., USA, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Australia and Hong Kong. Since the 1980s Laithwaite Wine has also been produced its own wines. Cheers to that!