Women at Maison Gabriel Meffre: portrait of Laura Pourtier, Export Sales Manager

Laura Pourtier, Responsable Export zone Scandinave au sein de la Maison Gabriel Meffre

What does your work at Maison Gabriel Meffre involve?

I am the Export Sales Manager, in charge of Scandinavia. It is a particular zone as the markets are under state monopoly, which is a very different system to the distribution models we are familiar with in France and elsewhere in Europe
In Scandinavia, wine distribution is state-run. The aim is twofold:

  • The pursuit of quality: 

State monopolies constantly update the offering to keep pace with tastes and trends. We are therefore in competition with a very diverse offering.

  • Public health:

The approach is a continuation of a long-standing policy of controlling alcohol consumption. 

In order to grow sales, I am in regular contact, practically on a daily basis, with my various partners, which are mainly importers. I build and develop a trust-based business relationship with them.

 

My mission in this zone also includes performing monthly market analyses. For this I analyse the databases provided by monopolies for importers, in a totally transparent manner. Together, we look at consumption trends in different segments, picking up strong and weak signals in order to offer wines that best meet consumer expectations.

The advantage we offer these markets is that we supply a broad selection, from AOPs to varietal wines, and from organic to bag-in-box format, which our dual role as producer and négociant allows us to do. Our organisation, which is highly focused on CSR*, gives us great flexibility and responsiveness to offer wines that are suited to these constantly changing markets. 

 

Do these monopoly markets require a specific way of working?

Absolutely! These monopoly markets have led us to focus our approach on sales promotion and well-established client relationships. There is also a strong need to perform market analyses, as they are very innovative and fast-changing. 

I therefore very attentive and aware of opportunities when they arise!

This is why I find this geographical zone so fascinating.

 

What have you noticed that is special about the Scandinavian markets in your day-to-day work?

It is a demanding market in terms of quality and innovation. So Maison Gabriel Meffre is well suited to it! The development of our screw cap bottles and the decrease in weight of our bottles, for example, are arguments that can be put forward on these markets where consumers pay attention to the carbon footprint of imported goods

We are working on new products to continue to cater to these demanding markets.

 

How is your team organised?

My colleagues and I cover all global regions, as Maison Gabriel Meffre is present in fifty or so markets. Each Export Sales Manager focuses on a zone, which can vary in size. I have been in charge of Scandinavia since 2014. The aim is to be a specialist in our particular zone, in order to better understand it and work in depth. There are new things to learn every day

I still have a way to go before being fluent in Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish (laughs)! I actually only use English in my job. 

 

How have things been going recently?

The health crisis has changed our relationship with partners in the zone. We can no longer meet in person to present our latest products, talk about the markets, or simply enjoy a meal together. We of course miss this sociable part of our work. So, like everybody else, we have found other ways to "see" each other. As it happens, videoconferences have enabled us to converse even more frequently

Our ties are almost stronger as a result. A new kind of proximity has been created. 

We are lucky to be well represented in these markets and have not really been adversely affected by the health crisis. My day-to-day job is even busier!

We are preparing to launch new products in Sweden. I am also looking at the possibility of new packaging formats to meet the expectations of this market that is thirsty for innovation! The aim would be to supply products with lighter packaging, making them easier to transport and store, and reducing the carbon footprint. We are working on this alongside Maison Gabriel Meffre's marketing team.

We are not preparing for tomorrow, but for the day after tomorrow!"

 

What led you to join Maison Gabriel Meffre?

I studied international business in Avignon, Grenoble and England. This gave me opportunities to learn about wine production and gain experience in retailing. During my master's degree, specialised in wine, in Avignon, I sent an unsolicited application to Maison Gabriel Meffre. What attracted me was its local engagement, its superb cuvées, its dual expertise as a négociant and producer, and its international presence through innovative brands. 

My work experience went very well and I had the chance to replace one of the Export Sales Managers for a few weeks. It was a very enriching experience.

I left to devote myself to other projects and then returned in 2014 as Export Sales Manager for Scandinavia.

I am very grateful to Maison Gabriel Meffre for having faith in me and allowing me to develop.

 

How do you see the place of women in the world of wine?

I have a very Scandinavian vision of it! Women have equality in the wine industry in the geographical zone where I work. 70% of my contacts are women aged between 30 and 45.

It's funny because the buyers and decision-makers I work with are often mothers, or have just returned from maternity leave, and it is totally acceptable to have an unconventional work schedule. The sharing of responsibilities in families and couples seems fairer and more balanced to me. This is evident in the workplace, where my female counterparts have a lot of responsibilities and also much freedom in the way they organise their time (with remote working and flexible working hours, for example).

It is very pleasant to work with these people and I feel like I'm connected with them. It seems to me that Maison Gabriel Meffre understands what companies can be today: a place where people can grow. I feel independent here, thanks to the faith my managers and team have in me.

 

You just returned from your second maternity leave. How is it going?

Very well! It's exciting to be back. I'm happy to see my team and clients again. Before I left, my job description was being redefined. I feel like I have been listened to and I feel welcomed.

 

What are you most proud of?

I am very proud to have developed a market that represented a relatively small part of our business a few years ago. But it's about more than just figures. I insisted on us developing new cuvées that did not exist before. This work was carried out hand in hand with our winemakers and our local partners. 

We have managed to strengthen our presence in the Scandinavia zone thanks to Maison Gabriel Meffre's new offering. It was a long-term gamble, involving a whole chain of stakeholders, which we have opened up prospects for. 

The gamble paid off, but we must not rest on our laurels, as challenges come thick and fast!

 

What are your New Year's wishes for Maison Gabriel Meffre?

What I love about Maison Gabriel Meffre is the group energy! 

The team moves forward with the same vision, the same drive: customer satisfaction and continuous improvement. 

This is what allows us to launch unifying projects and set challenges.I find this exceptional and it is a great source of motivation for me. I of course wish that Maison Gabriel Meffre continues to follow this path! 

My thoughts are also with our friends in the restaurant sector. I hope that they will be able to open once again, to celebrate life and share pleasant moments together as we used to do!

 

This series of portraits puts the spotlight on women at Maison Gabriel Meffre. Read more interviews with other members of the Maison Gabriel Meffre team: