Portraits

Edoardo Freddi A next-generation global business enabler for fine Italian wines

From its base in Castiglione delle Stiviere, South of Lake Garda in northern Italy, Edoardo Freddi has grown into a multi-million-bottle operation in just a decade. We asked its founder, Edoardo Freddi, how he has achieved such head-turning success and where he sees the future for Italian wine.

The figures are mind-blowing. Founded in 2012, Edoardo Freddi managed sales of 33 million bottles of wine for 49 Italian wineries in 2022, generating revenue of 80 million euros. It boasts an impressive portfolio, featuring prestigious names such as Feudi di San Gregorio, San Leonardo and Marchesi di Barolo, illustrating its focus on fine wines, although it markets a comprehensive product range from entry-level upwards. The wineries are geographically diverse, from the North to the South of Italy, offering a complementary choice of styles, target audiences and price tags. The company views itself as a ‘business accelerator’ for Italian wineries seeking greater presence on the world stage, connecting producers with the top overseas importers and distributors in one hundred countries, and counting. Nearly half of its business is currently focused in Europe, followed by one third in the Americas, 20% in Asia and a balance in Africa and Oceania.

 

Vines in Italy

Lower crop levels in Italy in 2023 could be a blessing in disguise and push the Italian wine proposition further upmarket

 

Lean, agile… and young

Asked how he selects the wineries he works with, Edoardo Freddi explains: “The winery must have a range in line with current and potential market trends. It must have an innovative proposition capable of conveying its added value and its unique characteristics. It must also be a leader in terms of volume or value in the region and category it belongs to. Flexibility, adaptability to change and the winery’s proactive approach are also fundamental”. These values are fully embodied by the company itself, which is very much founded on the premise of ‘lean and agile’, but also youth – the average age of its 40-strong staff is 35. “One of our strengths lies in our young and specialised team which is capable of providing a complete, quality service”, adds Freddi. The company acts as an external marketing department for its partner wineries, providing the in-depth market insight that the wineries themselves may lack or offering the resources some companies may prefer to allocate elsewhere. Over the past 12 months, it has founded the Edoardo Freddi international observatory to provide wineries with market analysis and research aimed at identifying ongoing trends around the world: “This allows us to have a clear, up-to-date and constantly active vision on the data front, which is essential for our work”.

 

Barrel cellar in Italy

Edoardo Freddi connects the finest Italian wineries with top international importers and distributors

 

Pushing geographical boundaries

Edoardo Freddi is able to leverage the data and insight thrown up by the observatory to tap into new market opportunities globally. Whilst its current bastion is Europe, the company sees a bright future for Italian wines in emerging or undeveloped markets in regions like Africa and South America, but also in many Asian countries such as China, Singapore and South Korea. It is considering opening offices in some key markets such as the United States in order to ramp up its presence there and coordinate diversified teams. As its geographical boundaries extend, so will its range of customised solutions in a bid to provide its partners with unrivalled service. Its portfolio is likely to grow in the future – four new wineries have joined its line-up in the past two months alone. “For months, we have been very interested in wineries that produce and sell fine wines and are seeing that these products are performing very well in international markets”, stresses Freddi. “We have established collaborations with Tuscan, Piedmont and central Italian wineries. In the future, we plan to include further fine and super premium wineries”.

 

Edoardo Freddi graduated in economics and management from Luigi Bocconi University in Milan

Edoardo Freddi facilitates exports to 100 countries, and counting

 

Robust demand for fine wines

The range extension dovetails with the premiumisation trend that continues to gain traction around the world, despite some current headwinds due to the economic crisis and inflation. Edoardo Freddi confirms the underlying tendency for consumers to trade up: “We are seeing a lot of demand for fine wines, especially in markets such as Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Japan and the Far East”. This high-end focus is reflected in the company’s ongoing market shift – whilst 70% of the wines are currently sold in the off-trade, partly as a result of on-trade closures during Covid, the aim is to achieve channel distribution which leans more heavily in favour of the on-trade. “Over the next few years, the shares of the various channels will change and we will arrive at 50% off-trade, 40% on-trade and 10% online”, with e-commerce increasingly gaining in significance. But will this year’s small Italian crop hinder the company’s growth potential? “There will certainly be an increase in prices, but the crop reduction can benefit companies from an inventory perspective, and lower production will also allow them to raise their positioning, demonstrate the uniqueness of their wines, and invest more in promotion”. Every cloud has a silver lining…

 

Company founder Edoardo Freddi graduated in Economics and Management from Luigi Bocconi University in Milan