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Annual General Meeting 2012

A year of acclaim and success, and changes at the helm

Wine Society Chairman Sarah Evans introduced the 138th AGM, attended by 427 members and guests, by saying that rather than reflecting on our performance against the general economic background she wanted to talk more about The Society itself and some of its people: 'It has been a remarkable year for The Society: a year of acclaim and success and a year of change in the senior management team.'

Before doing so, Sarah pointed out that the financial performance of The Society, as reported on in the Annual Review, was strong, with 'regular wines' sold, the highest ever, approximately 8% more than last year. This was largely driven by an active membership 6% higher than the previous year and members, on average, buying a little more from The Society than in 2010/11. She reiterated our commitment to hold prices wherever possible and return surplus profits to members through lower margins.

One of the highlights of the year had been our success in winning two of the most prized trade awards, The International Wine Challenge 'Merchant of the Year' and Decanter magazine's 'National Wine Merchant of the Year.' We have also won awards for our Chilean, Alsace and Portuguese ranges. Our focus on quality, service and value, and our ability to blend tradition with innovation have been key to these achievements.

Sarah said that The Society would continue to look at new, interesting and cost-effective ways of improving services and providing member satisfaction. One way of engendering this can be through new people and this year The Society has recruited both a new Chief Executive and Head of Buying, almost certainly the two most important roles in the organisation. New CEO Robin McMillan, who has been immersing himself in the business since he started on 1st May, introduced himself and said that he was delighted to be part of 'this great organisation and this great Society'. He welcomed members' feedback and questions and said that 'even at this early stage it is clear to me that my primary focus must and will always be members and the experience you have at what is your Society'.

It was also the first AGM for Tim Sykes, the new Head of Buying who joined The Society on 19th March. As well as getting to know all aspects of the business, Tim has been meeting key suppliers and has been heavily involved in the assessment and buying of the 2011 Bordeaux en primeur wines. Tim said that he too was delighted to join The Wine Society and what he believes is 'the strongest buying team in the country'. He paid tribute to Sebastian Payne MW and said how much he valued his experience and having him on the team.

You can read a transcript of Sarah Evans' speech and questions and comments from members here

Click here to download the minutes for the 2012 AGM