Michael Barry, managing director of Barry & Fitzwilliam, reflects on the highs and lows of running an independent drinks distributor as the company celebrates its 40th birthday.
One of the best-known names in the Irish drinks industry, Michael Barry has led Barry & Fitzwilliam for the last four decades, growing the business to become Ireland’s largest independent premium alcoholic drinks distributor.
The company which carries more than 120 wine, spirits and beer brands and employs over 60 people at its extensive warehousing and administration facilities based in Ballycurreen, Cork with a sales office in Dublin.
“We have managed to survive and prosper over the 40 years by keeping a close eye on international trends and embracing them. We trade with all of the multiples, independent off licences and a large number of accounts in the hospitality sector," he commented.
"Besides being an agency house, we are also one of the leading spirit wholesalers in the country, carrying all of the leading spirit brands. Barry & Fitzwilliam is very much a one stop shop for hospitality.
Barry noted that as a family company, it deals with a lot of other family companies, which he believes is a major point of difference for Barry & Fitzwilliam.
"We distribute some of the best-known brands in the world across wine (McGuigan, Villa Maria, Michel Lynch, Graham Norton), spirits (Remy Martin, Tia Maria, Cointreau, Bols, Disaronno) and beers/RTDs (Paulaner, Brewdog, White Claw). In addition, we have just finalised a deal with the largest brewery in the Ukraine which is Obolon in Kiev to import their beer.
"I believe that the future is very bright for Barry & Fitzwilliam: we have a great team, we have great brand owners, and great relationships with them.
"We have a portfolio which is very much on trend with the consumer such as White Claw, BrewDog and our celebrity wine portfolio such as Graham Norton, Kylie and SJP [Sarah Jessica Parker], together with all of the brands mentioned earlier, so we are very much looking forward to celebrating fifty years in business in 2032,” he concluded.