Change is universal, and the wine industry is not unique in the challenges it faces. This according to Dr Johan van Zyl, former CEO of Sanlam, at the annual Nedbank VinPro Information Day in Cape Town.
Reflecting on the challenges shared by presenters at the conference earlier on the day, Van Zyl said other countries, like South Africa, also have economic downturns, and other sectors have faced similar pressures on profitability as the wine industry. With wine consumer trends also being similar across the globe, other wine producing countries need to adapt their strategies.
Van Zyl said that change creates new opportunities to make money. “We’re not in business to grow volume; we’re in it for return – make sure your efforts are reflected in your profit margin.”
He urged the wine businesses to identify opportunities to turn change into profit, then sharpen their business plans – or develop new plans – and take calculated risks. “Planning is crucial in order to stay disciplined. If you don’t have a plan, develop one taking into account those risks you can stomach. If you have a plan that’s well thought through, stick to it; don’t change course midway,” said Van Zyl.
He added that strategic partnerships are key to ensure growth, as it introduces new expertise and resources.