Sainsbury's wine director Allan Cheesman is leaving the UK supermarket to start his own consultancy – but he's in no hurry.

Cheesman is considered a pioneer, and is credited with revolutionising the way supermarkets offer wine to the public. He has been in the wine business 31 years – almost entirely at Sainsbury’s, with a brief stint at BRL Hardy.

After February next year he will remain as a consultant to the supermarket three days a week. He will still sit on the board of Sainsbury’s Calais operation, and take part in general strategy discussions, external PR and so on.

And in any time he has left, he’s going to set up his own consultancy business. ‘It’s already got a name – Cheesman Associates,’ he told decanter.com. ‘Although there’s only one of me at the moment.’

He has no jobs lined up and has spent very little time planning his new freelance role – and he’s not losing any sleep about it.

‘It’s a change in life and I’m looking forward to it immensely,’ he said. ‘I’ve worked 31 years in the business so I’ve got something to offer – all I know is that I won’t be working for any of the big retailers. I can’t see myself with Tesco on my shirt.’

Sainsbury’s chief executive Sir Peter Davis said in a statement, ‘For much of his time at the company Allan has been at the forefront of our beers, wines and spirits business and has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the most able and influential players in the wine trade.’

Cheesman himself is looking forward to doing all those things he didn’t have time to do when he was working full-time.

‘I’ll even have time to come to Decanter tastings,’ he said.

Written by Adam Lechmere8 October 2002