Amanda Thomson is CEO and founder of Thomson & Scott. Formerly a BBC broadcaster, Amanda moved to Paris in 2010 to fulfil a life-long ambition to study for a wine and Champagne diploma at Le Cordon Bleu. Amanda single-handedly launched Thomson & Scott Skinny Champagne Grand Cru – a no sugar Champagne, and has recently added Thomson & Scott Skinny Prosecco to her portfolio, both of which are stocked in Selfridges.
“…We live in a global marketplace where media travels fast and due to mainstream news coverage in The Times, New York Times and The Telegraph, we have had interest from Australia, Los Angeles, China, and the UAE – you name it…”
Amanda, you’re a long-time friend of Womanthology, and we’ve spoken several times before. For those readers who missed your previous features, please can you give us a brief recap on your career to date and how you came to be in the Champagne and Prosecco business?
Having been raised by a health conscious mother on a vegetarian, no sugar diet, I’ve always been interested in healthy living. After a career as an Arts Broadcaster at the BBC, I moved to Paris and studied for a Diploma in Wine at the Le Cordon Bleu School. I became obsessed with taking the best no added sugar Champagne, branding it radically in a way in which the global wine market could easily understand and making that the cornerstone of the business.
How are your products different to the rest of the market?
They’re top quality and no added sugar in the case of the Champagne. And low sugar – half that of a traditional Prosecco – with Thomson & Scott Skinny Prosecco. The Prosecco is also organic and vegan certified so it’s great for the fitness and fashion crowd. They taste fantastic – that’s the most important point.
You’ve just launched Thomson & Scott Skinny Prosecco in the UK but you’ve already got plans for international expansion – please can you tell us about these?
We live in a global marketplace where media travels fast and due to mainstream news coverage in The Times, New York Times and The Telegraph, we have already in a short space of time had interest from Australia, Los Angeles, China, and the UAE – you name it. So we have many keen clients across the world and we’re keen they don’t have to wait too long to get their hands on it.
How do you balance the risks and opportunities 0f exporting?
Good question and no doubt it will be a fine balance for us especially as we’re such a small team at present. The trick will be to have a secure enough of the market here first, which we’re very much focused on.
We’re eager to pinpoint a specific place rather than whole country or continent in case of the U.S. So, Los Angeles rather than the whole West Coast for example. Also, and most importantly, it’s all about relationships – you must absolutely trust anyone you choose to work with especially overseas due to their very different business and legal systems.
How do tastes for wine and Champagne vary from country to country and do you adapt your approach accordingly?
Interestingly we won’t be adapting. The appetite for top quality no and low sugar sparkling wine is growing globally especially with sugar being headlined as the new poison. Typically, younger people like a drier style of wine anyway.
What sort of support have you received from organisations like UKTI?
None to date but I’m keen to see how they may be able to help. Traditionally, support often means heaps of paperwork, but I’m hoping new systems will enable us to move quickly and efficiently.
What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs looking to expand overseas?
The same advice I’d give any entrepreneur, male or female: Make sure your associates and advisors know exactly what they’re doing. Making a genuine business error in the UK may be one thing but doing it under the U.S. law for example, could land you in jail.
What is coming up next for you and the business?
I personally really want to crack Los Angeles now – it’s the perfect next step for us. Just like my inspirational mother, they embraced healthy living decades ago and are all about healthy luxury without compromising taste – the perfect brand fit for us.