For Hong Kong oenophiles looking to buy Nicolas Feuillatte or any number of other high-end wines, their first port of call should be at Omtis Fine Wines, the family-run wine merchant that has made Asia its home for 100 years. We interview Philippe Bera, CEO of Omtis, about its partnership with the French champagne house, its centenary celebrations and its vision for the future.
How did the partnership between Omtis and Nicolas Feuillatte come about?
Unlike most wine distributors, Omtis Fine Wines focuses primarily on the high-end. We were the agents for Domaines Barons de Rothschild wines for more than 20 years in Hong Kong and Macau, before segueing into becoming a fine wine merchant with a global presence. We then encountered Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, a powerful brand representing almost a third of the Champagne region. Building Nicolas Feuillatte in Hong Kong and Macau was an enticing challenge, so we grabbed the opportunity. It’s been a very fruitful partnership with market penetration increasing each year.
Omtis is celebrating its 100th anniversary in Asia this year. What are the keys to success for this family-run business?
That’s a complex question. Omtis has evolved across different industries to where it is today – from importing Western movies into China in the ‘20s to being the exclusive agent for Omega and Tissot watches, not to mention other reputable Swiss luxury brands in Greater China from the ‘30s to becoming a wine distributor in Hong Kong and Macau in the ‘80s.
I think the most important factor of our success is that every new generation brought a fresh perspective. My father worked in Switzerland before joining Omtis, so he had strong connections with the watchmaking industry as well as an engineering background which helped us grow our watch importing business in Hong Kong. For myself, I worked as a banker previously, so I have a finance-driven approach to our wine business. These unique skillsets help us reinvigorate Omtis to make sure it stays contemporary and ahead of any major trends.
Furthermore, I think communication has been our greatest asset. When one generation transitions to the next, it does not mean that the previous generation’s input stops. In fact, using their experience and knowledge to complement the current generation’s visions have really strengthened our business as we expanded across industries. I talk with my father every day to get his input on our strategies.
With a century under its belt, what’s next for Omtis?
Something that we’ve been working on is a brand-new system of wine purchasing and management. Currently within our industry, each step of the wine value chain is isolated and disjointed, from the vineyards to the distributors to the storage companies to the auction houses – it’s a very inefficient process. We want to help our clients keep tabs of their collections from the vineyard to their homes. From calculating storage costs to shipping details and even tracking the provenance of each individual bottle, we’re hoping to streamline and digitise the entire process, so our customers receive efficient service and full transparency.
For the immediate future, though, with Omtis turning 100 this year, we’re aiming to host 100 events. It’s a fun way to interact with our friends and clients, and we’re looking to host everything from intimate dinners to larger-scale tasting parties.
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