The Master

Chris searle

My journey as Master started unknowingly at school. Previous generations of the family were Brewers in North Finchley, so while the business had been acquired by others ( the Flowers brand name still exists), it was not a surprise that I followed in my father’s footsteps in attending Aldenham, a boarding school in Hertfordshire, which was supported by the Worshipful Company of Brewers. We often wondered why the painting of the Founder had a fludged painting over his right hand, which clutched a bible. Perhaps the pint of beer got there first!

Onto to Kings College, London University studying Chemistry. Still managed to find time to captain the Mens Hockey Club for two years, leading them to winning the University league in my last year.

I joined IDV in Harlow as a Brand Manager in 1977, where the first day at work was sniffing a new recipe for Gilby’s Gin. Piat de Beaujolais gave me the excuse to do a couple of Beaujolais Nouveau runs to bring back the new Beaujolais quickly. Midnight in Macon, then midday in London. Thanks to Morgan Cars and British Leyland.

Have risen to Marketing Manager, Gilbey Vintners and managing the major brands, Smirnoff Vodka, Croft Original Sherry and launching Piat D’or, my ambition to be a Marketing Director was realised with a move to United Rum Merchants handling iconic brands like Lambs Navy Rum, Tia Maria, Remy Martin and Grand Marnier.

Following the takeover by Allied Domecq, I was attracted to Martini and Rossi to work on Martini and other famous European brands owned by the elegant Italian family. Martini Racing was dominant in WRC, what’s not to like!

Structural changes in the family led to the merger with Bacardi in 1992/3 but in the UK we were already set up with a JV with Bacardi and Bass in 1989.

Martini bought a separate wine business from Bernard Teltscher and the terminally declining Lutomer Riesling I joined as a trouble shooting MD to change the business from wine wholesaling to a branded agency based on spirits and liqueurs. Today that is a very successful business owned by W.Grants and moved into a European Corporate Affairs role to manage simple issues like to move from local currencies to the Euro. Martini Racing beckoned again as I also ran the Team Sponsorship of the Ford Focus team and rally stars like Colin Macrae and Carlos Sainz senior.

I was very fortunate to be offered the honorary Chairman positions in the Wine & Spirit Trade, and separately the Benevolent (now the Drinks Trust), and then the Portman (to protect Bacardi Breezers during the alcopop crisis).

The last 6 years saw a newly created Global role of CSR and International affairs Director, implementing a new reporting structure covering responsible marketing and sustainability, and managing a CSR campaign, ‘Champions drink Responsibly’ I was privileged to Work with Global Ambassadors like Michael Schumacher and Rafa Nadal and famous memories created, notably the Top Gear stunt.  

 Personally, my wife Sue ( a better Chemist than me and a intuitive social media entrepreneur ) looks forward to being the Mistress  alongside her work with Kings College, and I have two lovely children, Samantha and Alexander and a new granddaughter, Sophia.

We have shared interests in music, food and wine and cars, and a new addition to watching tennis!