James Osborn, a leading figure in the English wine industry, has joined Knight Frank’s Viticulture team as a Partner. Osborn’s arrival at the firm marks the latest high profile new hire into the global property consultancy’s rural division, which over the last three years has been on a major expansion drive.
James Osborn’s background is in branding and integrated agencies, having headed up the UK and European arm of Hakuhodo Inc, the eighth largest communications and innovation network in the world. At Hakuhodo he worked with brands including E&J Gallo, Asahi Beer, Youngs Pubs, Cunard and Adidas.
Prior to joining Knight Frank, Osborn was Managing Director at Squerryes Wine Estate, a family owned 2,500 acre working English estate on the North Downs. Since 2017, he was responsible for the estate’s growth plans through the creation of a strong performing wine, hospitality and retail business. In his seven years with Squerryes, Osborn turned the business from a boutique family run winery into an award-winning premium UK wine brand and destination – delivering a distinct brand, onsite food and drink offerings and built a 2,600 person strong membership programme.
In 2018, during his time at Squerryes, Osborn helped to create and lead the Wine Garden of England, a group of eight wineries which exists to position Kent as the number one wine tourism destination in the UK.
At Knight Frank, Osborn will work with Ed Mansel Lewis, the firm’s Head of Viticulture, to offer its clients a holistic consultancy offering. His focus will be on helping wine producers with “profitable placemaking”; this includes advising on how to drive higher margin wine businesses, defining a brand, maximising the potential of owned retail and creating a hospitality-led destination with a strong community at its heart.
James Osborn, partner, Knight Frank Viticulture, said: “I am delighted to have joined Ed and the Knight Frank team to help further develop its market leading consultancy services. I look forward to working with the firm’s clients, and new entrants, on growing their margin and P&L through visitor destinations and the customer facing components of their wineries. Implementing my learnings and experience gained at Squerryes, to deliver strong consultancy advice across a wide range of other English wine brands, is an exciting prospect.”
Knight Frank’s Viticulture strategy is to help English wine estates and producers create a more sustainable commercial platform for future growth. The firm’s offering focuses on three core pillars: market leading property solutions, talked about brands and outstanding visitor destinations.
Ed Mansel Lewis, Head of Viticulture at Knight Frank, said: “I am delighted that James is joining us. I respect and admire his understanding of how to optimise the direct to consumer model within wine businesses. The significant cost that comes with producing sparkling wine means that businesses must have a strategy to increase bottle sales through the cellar door at a full retail margin, and James helps businesses achieve this in a way that’s thoughtful and very hard to imitate.”