Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Responsible Drinker - Simon Loftus Chairman, Adnams

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Responsible Drinker - Simon Loftus Chairman, Adnams

Article excerpt

If you had to conjure up an image of an archetypal chairman, it would not be Simon Loftus. Sporting a crumpled linen jacket, blue cashmere scarf (even in summer) and an earring, Adnams' boss is a far cry from the boardroom norm. He is also a long way from the ruddy-faced, mutton-chopped man one might expect to be heading a real-ale company.

Loftus is the grandson of Pierse Loftus, who along with his brother Jack took a controlling stake in the Adnams family brewery at the start of the 20th century. Cambridge-educated, with a degree in history and fine art - a background that could explain the earring - he joined the business in 1969, and has since overhauled several parts of the company and become an outspoken member of the drinks industry.

Despite the family connection, the 58-year-old claims the brewery was not the obvious choice of career when he joined. But he felt obliged to lend a hand when the company ran into difficulties. 'The loss-making wine business needed someone to turn it around,' he says.

Loftus immediately began an overhaul of Adnams' wine division, transforming it from a wholesale 'stack 'em high' business into one of the UK's best-known wine merchants.

After that he oversaw the transformation of Adnams' hotel and restaurant business, which includes two fashionable inns, The Swan and The Crown, in the Suffolk seaside town of Southwold, where the company was founded and is still based.

He became chairman nearly 10 years ago when the beer division - the mainstay of Adnams' operations - was at a crossroads. 'The UK beer market was changing dramatically,' he says. 'What was a major part of the Adnams business was underperforming.'

Loftus developed a business plan that saw the company seriously consider marketing for the first time. 'We made the decision to be different and spend money on marketing and focus on the brand,' he says. 'We identified our major competitors, who the stayers were and who we thought wouldn't make it. We set about appointing a marketing director and branding agency, put together a marketing budget and swiftly realised we also had to advertise.'

The changes worked - he has successfully turned around Adnams, more than doubling sales in the process. He is stepping aside into a non-executive role next year, to be replaced by family member Jonathan Adnams, currently the managing director, but he hopes to leave a lasting legacy - both to the business and the broader drinks industry. …

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