Is it the right model?
Traditionally, a wine producer wishing to enter the UK market will seek out – or be sought out by – a UK agent or distributor. That is probably the best way to go about it for the producer who has no, or very little, pre-existing UK distribution. It is, however, only one of several possible models to consider, each with its pros and cons. See setting up UK distribution.
Be aware of the dangers
Assuming the agent/distributor route looks like the best way forward initially, there are dangers that a producer need to be aware of. As lawyers specialising in this field, we are used to seeing what happens when things go wrong. Here's a shortlist of the most important things a producer should try to do, or avoid doing.
Check the proposed agent/distributor out
Be sure who and what exactly you will be dealing with. You will only have recourse to that person if things go wrong. Will he/she/it be good for the maximum amount of credit extended? A limited company is a legal entity quite separate and distinct from its shareholders and directors. Consider its trading history/record and whether any guarantees should be required from its parent, directors and/or shareholders. Ask us to help with company searches and credit checks – they're inexpensive and can help avoid an awful lot of grief further down the road.
Where is the company registered? Be aware that England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are different jurisdictions, with broadly similar, but different, legal systems. We would strongly advise against appointing an Isle of Man, Channel Islands or other "offshore" registered company as your UK agent or distributor without first taking legal advice.
Appoint a distributor rather than an agent
If you appoint an agent (whether an individual, a partnership, or a limited company) who acts as a true 'commercial agent', the agent will have certain important rights under the Commercial Agents Regulations (Regulations). In particular ..........
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have a specific query.