Yoshi Shibuya, CEO of ASC Fine Wines (pic: ASC Fine Wines)

China's leading wine importer ASC saw major leadership reshuffles, and former CEO of Sarment will be joining as COO.

Yoshihiko Shibuya, CEO of China’s leading wine importer ASC Fine Wines, will step down next month, capping four years of his services at the company, while ASC’s COO Simon Wang departed the company last week.

Makoto Nagae will succeed Shibuya as the company’s new CEO, while Mario Aron, the former CEO of Sarment, which has just announced its closure has joined the company as COO to succeed Wang, starting from today.

ASC has confirmed the news to Vino Joy News.

Shibuya joined the company as CEO in March 2017, after having worked for 20 years in wine business for ASC’s parent company, Suntory Group. He delivered double-digit growth for the company in 2018 but weakening economy and US-China trade war dampened growth for China’s imported wine business the following year.

Yoshi Shibuya is stepping down as CEO of ASC Fine Wines (pic: ASC)

Under his leadership, the company focused on long-term improvement and stabilization. He consolidated ASC’s regional structures, and expanded new partnerships with other leading brands including Robert Mondavi.

It also deepened collaborations with Chinese wine brands, Grace Vineyard and the country’s oldest and biggest winery, Changyu Pioneer Wine Company. Beyond wine, ASC also tapped into spirits by distributing Beam Suntory’s spirits portfolio in Greater China as a part of deeper integration with Japanese parent company Suntory.

However, the company in early 2019 lost DBR Lafite portfolio’s two volume brands, Légende and Saga, two generic Bordeaux blends that have become extremely successful in the Chinese market because of their association with the Lafite brand.

Earlier this year, DBR Lafite announced that it’s also diversifying distributions for Domaine d’Aussières in Languedoc to four other distributors in mainland China.

ASC still distributes DBR Lafite’s Chilean brand Los Vascos.

Mario Aron
Mario Aron has taken over from Simon Wang as COO of ASC (pic: ASC )

Shibuya in his email to company employees said he will return to Japan but will continue to work with Suntory.

His successor Nagae served as managing director of Beam Suntory Taiwan. Nagae also studied Chinese language at university and joined Suntory in 1990. After devoting first 13 years of his career to sales in Kobe and Osaka in Japan, he has traveled in different parts of Greater China to build up his career. He has experiences working in Guangzhou’s drinks business and on-trade market in Shanghai for beer, Shibuya wrote in his email introducing his successor.

Wang joined ASC in 2015 after serving as CEO of Kerry Wines’ Greater China region. He was promoted to COO within two years. Wang left the company last Friday and it’s understood Wang will not stay on with Suntory group.

He is succeeded by Aron, who just finished his stint with the troubled wine company Sarment.

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