'Cornerstone' of BBR Anthony Berry dies

  • Thursday 25 February 2010

The flag at the 300-year-old headquarters of Berry Bros and Rudd flew at half mast yesterday in honour of the death, aged 94, of Anthony Berry, former chairman of the London wine merchant.

Berry, father of current chairman Simon Berry, took charge at the family company in 1965.

One of the major successes of his 20-year tenure was the export growth of Cutty Sark Scots Whisky, a brand invented by his father.

Berry also served on various bodies associated with the trade, including the Vintners’ Company, becoming a Master Vintner in 1980 - the picture, right, shows him in the uniform of a Master Vintner.

Retiring as chairman in 1985, he worked for the company as a non-executive director until his 90th birthday.

He was considered one of the last of the old-fashioned wine merchants: he only gave up wearing a bowler hat into work after being photographed by tourists once too often.

Outspoken in his dislike of the ‘modern’ practice of displaying bottles on shelves instead of in the cellar, he referred to the retail sections of BBR’s St James’s Street, Piccadilly, headquarters as ‘the supermarkets’.

But his ‘politeness, attention to detail, sense of humour and in-depth knowledge about wine – even as Chairman he would write personally to every new customer - form cornerstones of the BBR ethos today,’ the company said in a statement.

‘So much of what we are now doing at Berry Bros comes from my father's philosophy’, Simon Berry said.

‘He taught me the importance of understanding both the wines and the people who make them, and the customers who drink them. And to never forget that wine is meant to be enjoyed.’

Anthony Berry died on Tuesday this week. The flag at St James’s Street flew at half mast on Wednesday.

He is survived by his wife Sonia, his two children Simon and Victoria, and five grandchildren, Geordie, Iona, Flora, Clarrisa and Charlie.

His son, grandson, nephew and great-nephew still work at the company.

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