Case Studies

Dreyfus Ashby UK

A busy, specialist UK importer looking to launch new agencies, which also introduced new regions to their existing portfolio from South Africa and France.

The Producer Toolkit framework helped create structured, coherent content to communicate the launch and an information resource to support sales.



Richard Kelley MW and his wife Rebekah took on the Dreyfus Ashby company name in 2014 to launch their own specialist, wine importing business in the UK. The website states “We pioneer the unknown and champion the unfashionable. Our motto: To lead and never follow.”



Dreyfus Ashby was able to build a formidable portfolio of South African producers through Richard’s long-standing relationships and reputation in the region, where he lived and worked for several years. Their other, main focus was exploring and including producers from some of the more eclectic regions of France, with a strong showing from the Loire, Richard’s other great area of interest.

The strength of a specialist importer’s portfolio is built on investing in close, long-term relationships with their producers. Undertaking to represent their wines in the UK market requires an in-depth knowledge of each of their producers, normally gained through regular buying trips at least once a year. Dreyfus Ashby seek to provide very comprehensive information for each producer, communicated in detail, directly from Richard himself and reflecting his own style of communication. They make this available both in their price list and on the Dreyfus Ashby UK website. There is certainly no shortage of information here to support the wines with their trade customers.

More recently, Dreyfus Ashby has broadened its portfolio to include other regions, but on a very selective basis. The new agencies needed launching, plus they needed to ensure these new regions were highlighted and introduced to their customer base – a mix of both on and off trade across the UK.



Richard prefers to be selective on any opportunities which may involve working with producers from regions outside of Dreyfus Ashby’s normal areas of specialisation. The company does not seek to present itself as “a one stop shop” to its customers and prefers to work to its strengths. Consequently, adding a new agency from a different region or country, they were not currently ‘known for’ represented a significant investment in terms of time and money.


Once the decision is made to work with a new producer, ultimately it is all about timing and planning to maximise opportunities to launch and sell the wines. It also presents additional challenges in terms of communication, to be able to generate sales, when venturing beyond the specialist regions they have a strong reputation for.

Richard was presented with a rare opportunity to work with three very different producers, all of which he had worked with previously and had lost their current importer. This presented a particular set of challenges:

  • They all represented potentially brand new regions to introduce into the DA portfolio with producers from Spain, Austria and Italy
  • There was a travel ban under covid, which would not allow any visits for Richard to gain his own impressions
  • A comprehensive set of information would be needed for the website for each producer to ensure it would be available to their trade customers to gain familiarity with the new listings and communicate on to their own customers
  • There was also pressure on time and resources for Richard to have all the wine information available to coincide with the next price list release, an optimum time when customers reviewing their own lists would be focusing on Dreyfus Ashby’s portfolio.


We adapted the Producer Toolkit framework to research and work directly with the new producers on Dreyfus Ashby’s behalf.


The main requirement was to create a detailed profile for each producer highlighting their unique and benchmark information. This needed to be provided in a format suitable for the Dreyfus Ashby website, which also included short descriptions as a reference for each of the wines that would be imported.

All interactions with the producer were designed to gain as much in-depth information as possible to create a comprehensive picture of them at this early stage. The aim was to consolidate all the relevant and unique information to provide a well-structured overview of their background, philosophies, and outline their viticultural and winemaking practices and techniques.

Our framework allowed an efficient exploration of all aspects, to pull out any elements lacking or unclear from what the producer could provide, in advance of a proper visit in situ, not yet possible due to the travel ban.


Experienced specialist importers need to be experts at understanding the elements they need to highlight about a new producer, as each represents a long-term commitment and investment for them.

Working from our own marketing experience as an importer, we knew it would also be worthwhile to look at the potential additional uses of this information resource, beyond just providing the website content.

In particular, the detailed profile information would need to be edited down to a shorter version suitable for the Dreyfus Ashby price list and the wine descriptions would need to be accurate and suitable to be utilised here as well.

We also aimed to gather and review all the available resources from the producer in terms of images and product information (fiches/tech sheets) to have them available for customers via the Dreyfus Ashby website.



As a specialist importer with a small team, bringing in an external resource for the specific project of launching new regions and producers was beneficial both in terms of time and resources.  ‘In a time of covid’ Dreyfus Ashby was still able to capitalise on some important agency opportunities. They were able to confidently launch with the information resources in place to support sales, despite having to delay visiting until a later date.

The creation of a comprehensive and reliable set of information at the beginning of working with a new producer, also allowed Richard to plan confidently for each stage of launching and selling the wines. It represented a time and cost-efficient solution, not to have to constantly revisit information requirements and to be able to focus on the sales and promotion.

An additional benefit to Dreyfus Ashby was for the new producers to see themselves well represented online and in communications by their new agent, helping towards cementing a good working relationship.



For the launch Dreyfus Ashby had:

  • the new producer information live and available on their website ready to support the arrival of the initial shipments
  • a readily accessible reference point from which to respond to customer queries or refer them to in response to information requests
  • bottle shots were readily available to email or accessible online for customers



The information which had been created and formatted for the website and then the price list were also now a resource, which could be further utilised to:

  • create a pdf version of the full profile downloadable from the website or sent to directly to customers, as a very comprehensive response to information requests.
  • create the launch mailout introducing each of the new agencies and regions to their trade customer base
  • create additional promotion offers for individual wines
  • promote the wines and support new stockists on social media

Karen put the information together much quicker and more comprehensively than I could have managed in the time we had available. It gave us everything we needed ready for the arrival of the wines, to launch and support selling these new producers and regions.

Richard Kelley MW, Dreyfus Ashby UK, Newark