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Internet not a suitable tool for wine sales, says Vinexpo CEO

Vinexpo CEO Robert Beynat has dismissed the internet as a commercial tool for wine.

Speaking at the closing conference of the Bordeaux wine fair last week, Beynat said the web will ‘never be anything other than a marginal circuit for sales.’

He had been asked about the rise of new media as a business channel replacing traditional trade fairs.

‘The internet is not the right medium for the sale of wines and spirits, it is not a real alternative to traditional sales circuits and will never reach more than around 8% of the market.’

This contradicts a survey published by the Bordeaux Management School, also released during Vinexpo, that found sales of wine online in France have grown 30% in the last year alone.

Beynat was also dismissive of a question regarding the ‘fringe’ events that have caused so much controversy at this year’s Vinexpo.

‘We would like to avoid the off events,’ he said, ‘but anyone can hire any venue if it is outside the hours of the fair.’

Besides the Italissima event, other non-official Vinexpo events include lunches at chateaux such as Cheval Blanc, and tastings of wines at numerous venues around the region.

The official figures were 43,261 visitors up to Thursday night from 135 countries, with final figures expected to be around 45,000, a drop of 10% from the 2007 Vinexpo.

Visitors from Russia, Korea and Taiwan were particularly low compared with two years ago.

There were 1250 journalists from 54 different countries, and 2,600 exhibitors from 48 countries.

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Written by Jane Anson

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