Wines by Geoff Hardy
Richard Dolan, General Manager of Wines by Geoff Hardy in McLaren Vale, had a special interest in giving a “hand up” to an international student – he was one himself.
After a career in financial services in the UK, Richard emigrated to Australia and enrolled as a Mature Age international student between 2001 and 2004.
He remembered the opportunities he was given, so when he met Yuan, a Chinese wine business post graduate from the University of Adelaide he didn’t hesitate to give her a go.
“When our PR/marketing coordinator went on maternity leave we offered the role in a part time capacity to our Chinese born marketing intern Yuan, and arranged her employment through the easy 485 Visa,” Richard said.
“She had already done an internship in the Barossa ... we liked her attitude and her wine knowledge was good.
“Yuan was a real self starter and went about seeking out export opportunities in China and following up some of the inbound enquiries we were getting from Asia…in Mandarin.
“There were a few immediate orders – clearly the importers liked dealing with a Chinese national – so we renewed her contract for another three months then did our first trade visit to China,” he said.
Five years ago, sales into China were worth less than one per cent of Wines by Geoff Hardy’s entire business. Three years later, they account for 41 per cent of the winery’s revenue stream.
“We are selling high value wines – $20/bottle and have grown profitability by three times,” said Richard.
“This success can be directly attributed to Yuan – she is incredibly talented, hardworking, and one of the few naturally gifted sales people I have ever met…and she has no fear of rejection!
“Not only has this growth made a huge difference to our business but it has helped our local supply industry and created more jobs – in packaging, bottling, etc in the local area.
“I would recommend it to any business as a growth strategy. We have just appointed two more Chinese interns to help us grow our distribution and develop an online ecommerce presence,” he said.