It’s never too late to make a change, especially if change is going to revolutionize your business. This is a sentiment that Manu Meyers can certainly confirm to be true, as he and his wife made a change for the better upon buying Belgium wine importer, Wijnhuis Merckx. While most business owners think of upsizing and expansion as the only way to move forward, Manu shares his story of a different size of success with Wine Pleasures.
Since Manu and Wijnhuis Merckx will be attending our upcoming Buyer Meets Italian Cellar workshop in November, he also provides some insight on why workshops work for him and what Italian bottles would best fit in with his current collection in Belgium.
Can you give us some background information on how Wijnhuis Merckx got started?
Wijnhuis Merckx was started in 1965 as a subsidiary form a large Belgian importer of French wines. This importer had several distributers of his wines in Belgium. Wijnhuis Merckx was mainly working with restaurants and had a limited number of wines in stock.In 2003, me and my wife bought the company and started to work independently.We extended the range of wines to other countries such as Italy, Spain, South Africa, Chili etc. We also started to import directly from France and Italy.
As the restaurant business is not ideal to work with, and we had quite some competition from large groups, who are delivering lower quality wines at very low prices, we started last year in November with a new shop, mainly for the private customers. This also means that we constantly have to add new wines to our portfolio.
What do you hope to gain from the upcoming Wine Pleasures workshop that you cannot get from large fair trade?
On the upcoming Wine Pleasures workshop, we hope to get in contact with smaller wineries, that are family owned, and that produce typical wines for their region.
We are not interested in companies that produce large ranges of wines, that can be found everywhere on the market. As we will focus on the private customer and the real wine lovers, we have to distinguish ourselves from the supermarkets.
I see you already have a few Italian wines. What additions are you looking to make at the workshop in terms of price range, style, and region?
We want to add wines that are very typical for their region. We are looking for wines in the basic price range, but also for wines in the higher price range, with a good ratio price versus quality.
I think we will be looking for regions like Alto Adige, Friuli, Veneto, and Southern regions.
You have many different tastings and classes at Wijnhuis Merckx. Why do you feel that it is important to hold these events in your community?
The wines that we will focus on are not widely known by the common wine drinkers. So it is very important that we “sell” our wines to our customers. The only way we can do this is by organizing tastings and events, where our customers can come in and taste our wines.
It is also very important to introduce constantly new products, so that you can invite your customers to come to your shop and let them discover the new wines.
What direction do you think the Belgian wine industry will go in over the next few years? How do you intend on adapting to these changes?
The evolution that we see in Belgium is that the consumer is no longer willing to pay a high price for a low or medium quality wine at the restaurant. More and more, people join cooking clubs and organize dinners at home for their friends. On these occasions they are searching for the ideal combination of food and wine. That is where we as a specialized winehouse can make the difference. These customers are willing to pay a certain price, if the product is correct, and they also want to have some kind of exclusive product that is not available at the supermarket.
That is why we want to specialize in very specific wines that are typical for a region.
Italian wine producers should make the clever move to sign up for the upcoming Buyer Meets Italian Cellar Workshop and set up a meeting with Manu Meyers to discuss a distribution future with Wijnhuis Merckx!