About us is, I'm afraid, largely about me. I have grown Wilks & Co. into a Company with, I believe, a good reputation supplying the trade. Even though I started my career in retail and am always looking to improve the corporate and public side of the business it is often easier to sell via other wholesalers whose time and money is spent on getting business online with pretty websites. I'm fairly (alright very) stubborn and like to do things myself and that's why I constructed and now update this website personally and it's also why it may not be as polished as some.
I buy very well from the New World and it is a very important part of my list but this doing my own thing has led me more and more to finding and importing from good small, mainly French, producers who have little or no UK presence. I also buy, on an ex cellar basis, from higher profile gowers with UK agents, who have been supplying me for many years, but there is something special about building a relationship with, quite often, the family who grow and make the wine, then go on to succesfully sell it in the UK. The wine trade is full of stories about finding a small producer who only picks at midnight when the owl hoots twice and whose production you could happily fit into a large bucket, as an excuse for overpricing. The Emperor's new clothes scenario is unfortunately all too common and one of my pet hates along with sales callers who claim they are conducting a survey (often at 5.30pm on Fridays), staff who treat the customer as if they're stupid, when it's really the other way around, simply because they can't answer a question outside their training etc. I could go on but instead I'll tell you how I started in the trade.
Are you sitting comfortably? If not there's a cream for them. My career in the wine trade started in 1976 with Victoria Wine where I passed my Diploma and became a Shop Manager in my early twenties. It was at this shop in Shenfield that one of my customers offered me a job in his new Company, as Manager. Enforced ridiculously low stock levels and mind numbing corporate mentality were driving me mad so I took him up on the offer. I became the General Manager and quickly decided the way forward was to sell to restaurants and other trade customers. With no experience I braved the sales world and gradually built the business purely by showing enthusiasm for the wines, which were nearly all imported directly into our warehouse, something that has been of immense help to this day.
Unfortunately the business was sold to another Merchant who asked me to join them and look after the trade accounts. Then they sold out to a well known Merchant in Colchester that eventually didn't think they needed my services. During my gardening leave I was approached by some customers to supply them, started the business, still supply them and they remain friends to this day. That sort of loyalty you can't buy and I'll always be grateful.
So here I am now past my half century, sailing a bit, tasting a lot, drinking a little (truly) and looking forward to introducing you to some of my favourite wines.
Oh and before I finish, there is a caterer who I highly recommend for every occasion from Dinner Parties to Weddings. She is first class and her details are on the left of this page. I should add that, although we live together, the aforementioned praise was not given under any kind of duress. Seriously she is brilliant and I know how highly regarded she is by customers who choose her for all of their entertaining. Sue also has some corporate business and would welcome any similar enquiries.
Brian D. Wilks
BESPOKE CATERING FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS FROM DINNER PARTIES TO WEDDINGS.
Sue Eastall Personal Catering
e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org