Big personal news as Ben Franks steps down from Novel Wines after over 7 years to focus on growth at Canned Wine Co. and growing demands at his consultancy, Ben Franks Wine.

Ben Franks FRSA, the CEO and wine buyer who founded Novel Wines at the age of 22 in 2016, has decided to step down from his role to join Canned Wine Co., the business he co-founded with Simon Rollings, full-time as Chief Commercial Officer from January 2024.

Under Ben’s stewardship the wine merchant has built a strong reputation in the wine space as the purveyors for wines imported from Central and Eastern Europe. Novel Wines has won ‘Best Specialist Retailer – Central & Eastern Europe’ at the Decanter Retailer Awards every year since the Award’s inception in 2019, and in 2021 and 2023 Novel Wines picked up two IWC Merchant Awards and was shortlisted in the Harper’s 50 Best Indies.

Ben commented: “I am very proud of the business we built at Novel Wines and the team that has worked with us past and present over the years. I have learned so much from our team, customers and our wonderful wineries and suppliers. It is now time for me to take on a new challenge in the wine industry, but I am excited to watch how Novel Wines builds on our success in the future.”

Ben invested in and joined the alternative packaging brand Canned Wine Co. as a director in 2020 and has been responsible for all the business’ wine sourcing. As part of his new role at Canned Wine Co., Ben will apply to study for the Master of Wine qualification.

After Ben chose to step down from Novel Wines, the board opted for a fresh start with co-founder and director Gyorgy Zsiga mutually agreeing to step down at the end of September 2023 with a new Managing Director being appointed.

“It has been an incredible journey building Novel Wines with Ben,” Gyorgy said. “I am now looking forward to taking everything I have learnt and continuing to put Hungarian wines and other emerging wine regions on the map, both in the UK and markets all over the world.”

Gary Shaw, previously Sales and Marketing Manager at Novel Wines and having joined the business in December 2022, has been appointed as Novel Wines’ new Managing Director.

Gary commented: “I am looking forward to leading Novel Wines, bringing new skills from outside the industry and building on the success that Ben and Gyorgy have had over the last seven years. They established Novel Wines as a multi-award-winning wine merchant, so it’s an exciting time to take on the business with its strong track record and deep connections into the flourishing Central and Eastern European wine region.

“We will move forward with an enhanced focus on the on-trade with a directly-sourced, multinational list and a new, highly motivated team. We’ll be championing the unusual and eclectic for years to come.”

In October, Ben Franks was also appointed as an Advisor & Shareholder at Mogul Drinks Ltd and Mouse & Grape Ltd. Ben will continue as CEO until December and remain on the Novel Wines board as an brand ambassador and shareholder from January 2024.

Read the news in The Buyer: ‘Ben Franks is a shining example of the entrepreneurial spirit.’