Recruiting Wines & Spirits Professionals in New York: Unique Challenges and Opportunities
We here at ACCUR Recruiting Services are called on often to find talented wines & spirits professionals in the New York market. Over the years, we’ve come to understand how this market comes with unique challenges and opportunities, especially as COVID is rewriting business rules. Some of the things that we think about assisting wines & spirits companies in their hiring of sales executive, brand managers and other hospitality professionals in the New York market:
Size of the New York Wine & Spirits Market
New York is the third largest market for spirits and wines nationally, just behind California and Florida. The State of New York relies on alcohol sales to generate over $250 million dollars in tax revenue. The market has grown year over year, and even with the coronavirus pandemic shaping the market and forcing companies to be more creative.
Uniqueness of New York Wines & Spirits Market
Though the United States has a patchwork of state-level alcoholic beverage regulation, most states, including New York, have adopted what’s called the “three tier system,” which means the production, distribution and retail sale of alcohol is strictly separated. While New York is a so-called “open state,” it has more rigorous regulations than other top-selling states like California and Florida.
Still, New York remains central as it is an ideal location for the import of wines from France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the rest of Europe, and because New York occupies an important headquarters for numerous alcohol importers and distributors. Major multinationals have strong presences in New York such as Pernod Ricard, Rémy Cointreau, Anheuser-Busch (which has a number of wines and spirits brands in its portfolio) and Diageo (owner of such prominent brands as Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Captain Morgan, Tanqueray and others).
How COVID-19 is affecting the New York Wines & Spirits Markets
With COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in place, we are seeing wines and spirits companies adapt to new ways of doing business. Major considerations include:
- The increase in outdoor dining and what cocktail and wine pairings work best with revamped menus and operations
- Planning socially distanced events in key locations like the Hamptons for much smaller but still strategic audiences
- The role of virtual tastings
- A greater reliance on retail
Role of Hospitality in New York Wines & Spirits Market
Most of the wines & spirits revenue is found in New York bars and restaurants, where they are sold at a high margin. To cover the cost of high rents, sommeliers and restaurants professionals must be adept at sourcing unique bottles that are not typically sold in retail establishments. Because of tourist spend, even well-known independent restaurants like Smith & Wollensky, the Smith and Carmine’s can gross upwards of $15 million dollars a year.
Recruit a Local Hire or someone from the Home Country?
An important question we get from European producers and companies is whether they should work with a locally hired brand director or key account manager on expanding their wine or spirit business throughout New York, or should send someone from a home office? As we are well equipped through vast experience in this subject, we are able to guide companies toward the right hires.