Willi Klinger, the ebullient head of the Australian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB) has been appointed managing director of Wein & Co, Austria’s largest chain of wine stores and bars. He will assume the position on 1 January 2020, after he steps down from the AWMB.
“The return to Wine & Co is a true highlight of my career in the wine business and quite an emotional matter for me, because I was there 26 years ago, when we, with founder Heinz Kammerer and a great deal of effort, brought this baby into the world,” said Mr Klinger.
Wein & Co was founded in 1993 by Heinz Kammerer, and has since become an Austrian institution, with a flagship store in the historic Stephansplatz, in the heart of Vienna. It offers wine bars, food and events, as well as a strong online shop. By 2018, it had grown to 20 branches with €50m ($54.7m) in annual sales.
It was sold to Germany’s Hawesko Group at the end of 2018, who acquired it because they foresee that Wein & Co’s model can be scaled internationally. “Hawesko and Wein & Co simply fit well to each other—strong position in the respective markets, exciting and viable concepts for the future and the shared passion for wine,” said Thorsten Hermelink, CEO of Hawesko Holding AG at the time.
Willi Klinger, who has led the AWMB since 2007, brings extensive international experience to his new position. He is also a well-known figure in the wine world.
“I look forward to working with a young team as part of this perfectly managed Hamburg-based corporate group, which will give us the necessary support for the creative development of our Austrian cult brand,” said Mr Klinger. “In addition, I can remain connected with my many old friends and acquaintances in the wine world – not least with the great team at the AWMB.”
The Hawesko Group is Germany’s largest integrated merchant for wines and Champagnes, with a number of online, retail and business-to-business divisions. Its brands include HAWESKO, Germany’s leading direct marketing wine business; Jacques' Wein-Depot, the largest German specialist wine retailer; Wein & Co., the leading purveyor of fine wines and Champagnes in Austria; and Wein Wolf & CWD Champagner- und Wein-Distributionsgesellschaft, leading wine wholesalers. The Hawesko Group achieved sales of €524m in 2018.
A profile of HAWESKO will appear in Issue 5, 2019 of Meininger’s Wine Business International magazine.