Winemaker industry body Wines of South Africa (WoSA) has appointed Marcus Ford as its new Asia market manager, effective August 20.
He will be based in Shanghai, China, and responsible for running all marketing activities throughout mainland China, Hong Kong and Japan, the organisation said on Friday.
“The Asian market is important for South African wine producers and knowing we have a person on the ground who understands the challenges and intricacies thereof is invaluable. The rest of the team and I are excited to start planning the way forward for this growing and exciting market with Marcus spearheading things from his side,” said WoSA CEO Siobhan Thompson.
Hong Kong-born Ford has been steeped in the wine and food industries since an early stint at Oddbin’s, in the UK, followed by stints at Harvey Nichols’ 5th Floor and the Oxo Tower, in London, WoSA said.
An opportunity to move back to Asia arose in 1999. He was part of the successful team of M on the Bund, in Shanghai, that saw the establishment grow significantly until his departure in 2009. Ford then established one of China’s first premium wine retailers, Pudao Wines, and subsequently opened award-winning flagship stores in Shanghai and Beijing with their focus on serving China’s growing wine cognoscenti.
In 2015, the group was acquired by Woolworths of Australia, and Ford was a key business partner throughout the acquisition process.
The Woolworths acquisition led to a further start-up business, Langton’s East Asia, in Hong Kong, where Marcus represented the brand and acted as buyer and Head of Wine and content.
Since then, he has been working as a consultant on numerous projects for wineries of all sizes in the China market. He is an experienced wine taster and judge, as well as being an in-demand speaker on the China wine market at several high-profile events.
“I am looking forward to taking on this new challenge with WoSA. I have been very much aware of the concerted efforts that have been made by WoSA in this market for some time already and I believe there is plenty of potential for South African wine to make a real impact. I hope to be a valuable asset for the industry in this exciting market,” says Ford.