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Mike Knowles



VI.P ready to 'redesign apple category'

Italian group merges marketing and sales operations, naming Fabio Zanesco as its new commercial director

VI.P ready to 'redesign apple category'

Fabio Zanesco, VI.P Val Venosta

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Italian apple marketer VI.P Val Venosta has restructured its commercial and marketing departments, merging the two in order to adopt what it sees as a more concerted approach to its customers and one that is in tune with the increasingly complex nature of the international apple market.

The restructuring also sees the company promote its sales and marketing manager Fabio Zanesco to the new role of commercial director. As part of the new regime, he will be responsible for overseeing a new and combined sales and marketing operation.

For VI.P’s general director Josef Wielander, the rapid development of new products – especially club varieties – as well as new markets has rendered the global apple business a lot more complicated and harder to manage.

“Now is the right moment to reorganise our internal structure so we can provide our customers with the necessary blueprint to tackle this turning point in the apple market, where traditional and new varieties co-exist and a lot of new countries are progressively emerging both as competitors and as buyers,” he explained.

“In the last few years, all of our cooperatives have made major investments in technology, which have enabled us to be at the forefront of the business,” he continued.

“Added to this, we’ve seen significant growth in organic production, which will reach 800ha in 2019; at the same time we have bought the rights to new varieties that our members are working with us to develop, like Kanzi, Ambrosia, Envy and Yello, and others which will arrive next season.”

Wielander said he regarded helping retailers of all sizes to redesign the apple category – including the way their offer is presented in stores – as the sector's biggest challenge. By adopting a more coordinated commercial structure, he suggested, VI.P would be in the perfect position to assist customers on that journey.

“We think the key for the next few years will be to accompany our clients in reordering their shelves and the apple offer, which today is expanding fast and can be confusing,” he said.

Combined strengths

In the past decade, Zanesco has proven himself a safe pair of hands as far as coordinating sales and managing the Iberian market, a major outlet for Italian apples in general. His new challenge will be to lead VI.P’s international commercial activities and sustain growth – especially for its Val Venosta branded offer.

“It’s obviously a very exciting challenge,” Zanesco commented. “I’m convinced that we are on the right road towards modernising our approach to the market. We have looked at ourselves with as open a mind as possible, and now we have to roll up our sleeves and focus on the goals we have set ourselves.”

As part of the restructuring, Benjamin Laimer will take on responsibility for marketing, handling the operational side of the business and dealing with trade and consumer-focused campaigns.

VI.P’s commercial team for Italy and Germany remains unchanged, while Christiane Gfrei will take over as Iberian market manager. Mathias Lang assumes a similar role for Africa and eastern Europe, and Sepp Zöschg continues in the equivalent post for Scandinavia and the Middle East.

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