Q&A: Operations director at Laithwaites Wine People

The global company talks about its new Sydney customer service centre

Controlling the IT for an international wine company with a history of 40 years takes flexibility, communication and remembering the global nature of the business, says the Asia-Pacific operations director at Laithwaites Wine People, Leon Dale.

Explain to me your role at Laithwaites Wine People and what does your IT team looks like?

I’m operations director for the Asia Pacific region, and we now have a company in Australia based out of Sydney and also out of Hong Kong. I’m responsible for the whole of operations, and getting our product into the store and into the warehouse, the logistics and also the whole of customer service.

What drove the business to open a new customer service centre in Sydney?

The UK company has been going for 40 years now, and they experienced a lot of growth in the past 10 to 15 years, and around five years ago, that growth was flowing down. The company was only based in the UK at that point, and noticed there were opportunities globally, and in the last five years we’ve opened offices in Europe, Asia and the US.

What are some of the challenges of working in IT in the wine sector?

I think the biggest challenge in Australia is that it is very competitive. There are a number of large competitors who have been in the market for a long time. One of the advantages we do have is we have most of our support from the UK and we can look at global solutions.

What are some of the projects you’re working on at the moment?

IT for us is a global function. Our global director of IT has been over to Australia in the last few weeks, and I think we constantly re-evaluate projects across the business and make sure as much as possible that there’s one solution.

As far as a variety of projects, we’ve recently switched all of our websites in Australia over to an ATT platform which has been fantastic. We’ve seen the benefit from that immediately as previously it was on a .NET platform. Another project that has been of benefit has been the adoption of a WAN across the business, and there has been a speed increase there. For a global business that’s 40 years old, we need to look at what we have and the business is now very different to what it once was. We are constantly evaluating our systems.

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Tags customer serviceAustralian wineLaithwaites Wine People

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