Making a Long Story Short
Working at Rémy Cointreau since May 2010
Current position: Caribbean Area & Cruise Activity Manager
Located in Antigua & Barbuda
3 skills to work in your team: Passion, loyalty and honesty
How To Promote Exceptional Spirits in the Caribbean
What does your job entail?
My function is to manage our third part Caribbean Distributors (local market and duty free) and soon to manage our Cruise Ship partners/activities in the area. My role is to lead in developing our strategic brands within their markets while improving each market’s P&L.
How do you handle the distance from your team (Antigua & Barbuda, Miami, New York…)?
I am in touch with my team member Keiani Thomas daily. She’s based in the Bahamas and she is in charge of business development in both the Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos. For all the other markets, I work with up to 3 different contacts from the commercial and marketing departments of our distributors. I have 27 different distributors across 24 markets. My challenge is to stay in touch as often as possible, with the key partners to assure they execute the plans we agreed on.
Before Covid, I often visited most of the markets, some 3 times a year. I used to travel 60% of my time, as visiting markets is a way to show that we care. It motivates the local team to bring focus on our brands. I used to see activations, meet customers and train clients, customers or the partners on our brands. For the past year, unfortunately, traveling became impossible in the region. All business is now conducted via Team or Zoom sessions. Yet, as time passes, it is becoming obvious that we are all missing sharing and creating experiences together. I am eager to seeing all our partners again.
What is special about the Caribbean zone?
The Caribbean is represented by 30 territories with different political status (sovereign states, French or US departments, semi-attached to Holland, former colonies…). The region is extremely diverse with very different cultural backgrounds (Hispanic, French, Dutch, British or American). The challenge is to remain open-minded and relevant. Understanding diversity is key along with bringing value to PEOPLE of the region
The Caribbean also benefits from its proximity to the USA. Easy access to USA cable TV influences the region and its inhabitants. The Caribbean Diaspora in the USA is also very large, bringing Caribbean culture and music trends up North, even to Canada and to the UK. In my opinion, it is important to stay tuned with the trends coming from abroad, while staying connected with the local culture and their way of life. For instance, successful brands in the USA are destined to be successful in the Caribbean. My challenge is to assure our brands are well distributed, visible and activated where tourists are spending their quality time. At the same time, we would like to be present where local entertainment takes place and where returning Diaspora will consume. Engaging with the local communities is definitely a challenge.
Finally, we are very dependent on the quality of our distributors’ and sometimes their own business model and strategy. It requires a lot of determination and energy to demand and to motivate all of the distribution network. TIME is essence and my dream is to have a team on the ground at least for the strategic markets so we can accelerate the growth.
What has been the impact of Covid on your market?
Most of the Caribbean markets are highly dependent on tourism. Some airports have been closed for the past 12 months. Hotels are bleeding millions of dollars per month and the on-trade is closed in many markets or doing curbside business only. Our business has been seriously impacted from the first days in March 2020. A little recovery occurred during the festive season but was short lived as most Caribbean saw a spike of community spread since the early days of 2021. The good news, however, is that vaccination has started, and should be completed before the beginning of the 2021 high season. This will surely make the Caribbean a safe place to visit in the coming months. It will have a positive effect on our brands’ performances in the region.
10 Years… And Still Counting at Rémy Cointreau
Why and how did you join Rémy Cointreau?
In 2001, I joined a wine and spirits company based in Antigua, as the division’s Manager. We imported RC brands. I acquired a true passion for Mount Gay Rum! As years passed, I saw how much this brand meant to the sailors visiting the island and I naturally became a brand ambassador. In 2010, the position was open for months and I applied after discussing the opportunity with Mount Gay Managing Director Raphael Grisoni while visiting for the Antigua Classic Yacht regatta. The rest is history…
What do you like the most?
Rémy Cointreau is a prestigious company. I like to be part of the family. At RC, people are down to earth and real. I like that. I have to say that after 10 years, I am proud of my journey. Storms after storms, I am still here and embrace any challenges that come my way. My most memorable moment has been the sale of the #4 Mathusalem to the Eden Rock in St-Barth at the end 2016. For the occasion, we created a post on Facebook which generated 28,000 likes and 586 comments which was a hit. It was an exciting moment. To any future employee: Be ready to work hard, be open minded, and enjoy our spirits responsibly!