ASC Fine Wines has announced that as of next week, October 15, John D Watkins will succeed Don St Pierre Jnr as CEO, whilst St Pierre will become Executive Chairman of the Board.
Don St Pierre Jnr: Moving to Executive Chairman of the Board
Watkins has lived in China for 25 years, most recently working as President and CEO of GE AVIC Civil Avionics System Company.
He has twice served as Chairman for the American Chamber of Commerce in China, from 2009 to 2010, and engaged in developing partnerships in China for many Fortune 500 companies. He is also a wine enthusiast, was ASC’s first home delivery customer and has known the St Pierre family since the 1980s.
‘We knew when looking for the right person that their knowledge of China would be more critical than their knowledge of wine,’ St Pierre told decanter.com. ‘John has a superb knowledge of doing business in this country, having lived here for 25 years, and is an outstanding businessman who will have great success in this industry.’
St Pierre, co-founder of ASC with his father in the 1990s, told decanter.com that ASC has grown from a company with 8 offices three years ago, to 26 today, and from 500 staff to 1200. Since 2009, it has been 70% owned by wine and spirits company Suntory.
‘When a family business reaches the size that we have, it needs to be professionally managed in every aspect, and family members need to be ready to take a different role. I will be less involved in the day-to-day running, and will focus on business development and future strategies.’
One of his first projects, St Pierre confirmed, would be to look at the opportunities within the domestic wine market, specifically looking for a premium Chinese domestic wine producer to partner with.
‘One of the main challenges facing premium and super premium domestic wine producers in China is distribution through effective channels. We have that distribution, but need to find the right project – a quality producer who we can invest in and partner with to improve and expand the business.’
The company is looking at various sites in China, with a particular interest in the fine wine regions of Xinjiang and Ningxia.
Don St Pierre Jnr was named as number 7 in the 2011 Decanter Power List.
Written by Jane Anson