China - Xavier Pignel-Dupont

Bailliage of China
Shanghai, April 24, 2024

A bridge between France and China
" my job is fantastic: not only selling wines but also educating Chinese professionals and consumers about wine culture "

Through the good offices of Steven Weathers, Chargé de Presse of the Bailliage of China, the Chaîne News Online has learned about the personal and professional background of French national Xavier Pignel-Dupont, Vice-Échanson of the Bailliage de Shanghai.

Xavier has lived in China since January 2002, when he moved from Paris to Shanghai with his wife and three sons. He first worked for Sopexa, the French Agency to promote food and beverage. In 2007 he joined Castel Group to run the business in China. At that time, Castel was the top wine group in Asia Pacific and the first wine group in France and Europe. Castel was also the leader for French wines in China.

Have you always wanted to work in your industry?
I first worked in advertising. Sopexa, linked to the French Ministry of Agriculture at that time, hired me where I was in charge of marketing to promote French food and beverages worldwide; the emblematic ones are wine and cheese. That’s how I became passionate to share French food culture. Sopexa gave me the opportunity to move to China. Today, my job is fantastic: not only selling wines but also educating Chinese professionals and consumers about wine culture. I love to be a bridge between French and Chinese.

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge managing a business in your industry in China?
The most important challenge working in China is to be reactive. The market changes quickly. Wine consumption is different from one province to another. Distribution channels have changed drastically in these last five years with e-commerce and digital communication. The challenge is to listen carefully to the market in order to adapt a strategy to align with the changes.

In terms of leadership style, how would you describe yourself?
I ask my team to be creative and autonomous. I give them the objectives and the frame. I ask them to propose their plan. I give them a lot of autonomy within the framework.

What would you say is your biggest contribution to your company since joining?
My greatest contribution to the company is making Castel the leader for French wines in a very competitive market and maintaining this position for 17 years. It is very challenging and rewarding because the result is evident.

What do you like most about being part of the team and your own role at your company?
I most like being a bridge between France and China establishing sales and marketing strategies tailor made for China’s wine market.

How did you find out about the Chaȋne and why did you choose to join it?
I was invited by friends to join the Chaîne. I chose to join for the very friendly atmosphere and for the pleasure to enjoy good food and wines.

How long have you been a member?
In November 2005, I was inducted into the Bailliage in Shanghai. Much time has passed, and it is still a pleasure to be a member. The Bailliage of Shanghai is like a family. I like to meet new members and to discover new restaurants. Moreover, in Shanghai we have all kinds of Chinese and Western cuisines giving many opportunities to have great dinners together.

Are you aware of Chaȋne’s global community and are you planning to make use of this global family?
I am aware of our global family. I believe it is a great chance to have such a global community. It gives opportunities to join a Chaîne dinner anywhere in the world.

Would you like to say something to other members of the global Chaîne family?
You are all welcome to visit Shanghai, join our Chaîne dinners and discover the delicacies of Chinese cuisine.

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