Take time to make wine
As the company really found its feet, its founder was knocked off his by a heart attack in 1988. The cardiologist offered him some sage advice:
"The doctor told me it was time to retire." Laughs Tony, who even just weeks away from pensionable age is still going strong. "He told me, 'Tony it's time to retire, go to south of France, have a lovely holiday in the sunshine'. But that was my job!
"I took on a slightly different course in the business and everything improved because all the things I gave up were the things I was really bad at."
Organisation was not Tony's forte. Fortunately, it was Barbara's.
"Barbara stayed on for a year and managed to make a lot more money than we ever made before and that allowed us to hire some proper managers.
"But we kept on going round and seeing the producers and keeping it all first name and family run. We aren’t corporate."
The sheer size of Laithwaites belies the fact that, in essence, it's still a family company.
"We try to hide our size actually. With a lot of producers, I’ve known them for 40 years and now I’m dealing wih their grandchildren. We have long term relationships, I’m not a one night stand kind of guy." He chuckles.
Image: Laithwaite's Wine Experience at Vinopolis, SE1 9AA