Laithwaite - how Tony Laithwaite built a wine empire
Barbara & Tony Laithwaite

Barbara & Tony Laithwaite

Tony continued to travel and build relationships with wine sellers, some of whom he still deals with today, while Barbara held the fort at home.

As the company began to expand it became apparent that office space was required.

"The first [office] was a packing case!" Tony tells us.

"A big machine had come in it and so I used it as an office under the original arch. It was slightly warmer than the arch but had no toilets, no sanitation."

The first crate was quickly replaced by a second crate office this time a bit more ambitious.

"It was a two story crate office that I built with my own hands." Tony tells me chuckling.

Sitting at the impressive Laithwaites tasting table in what is probably the loveliest arch I've ever been in, it's hard to imagine the humble beginnings of the Laithwaite empire - a company with annual sales of £340 million and 2,500 wines on in its coffers.

And yet it's not hard to imagine Tony Laithwaite with his sleeves rolled up, putting the finishing touches to a crate-come-office.

The crate and van were all eventually replaced as together Barbara and Tony Laithwaite build Laithwaites into the internationally renowned wine company we know today, complete with their own vinyards and wine factories.

Image: Tony unloading the van at the first Laithwaite Arch

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