Beyond Wine and timepieces

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Sunday, July 20, 2014


THERE'S more to Margaret “Margie” Richards Taylor than just the wine shop, Bibendum for she has other businesses, too. Born in Cebu, she studied at International School (IS) and was whisked off to boarding school, the Dominican Upper School in San Rafael, California, at the age of 10.

She finished college at the Santa Clara University and took the Henley General Management Course in England. She also took up the advanced management course at the Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts.

For all that education, she said she was content to be a housewife until her first marriage failed. That was when she looked for a job, her first being with the Inchcape Group in Thailand, as product manager for Johnnie Walker. She built Johnnie Walker red label to become the market leader. Her last position in this company was as managing director in of Caldbeck MacGregor Co. Thailand, a company dealing in wines during which she became a wine connoisseur. From Thailand, she moved to Hong Kong, still with Inchcape, as marketing director of the Caldbeck group for all operations in Asia.    

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In 1988, Caldbeck MacGregor was bought by United Distillers Group (UDG) from Inchcape.

She joined UDG as one of two area directors for Asia and was also Duty Free director, Asia Pacific. Her last position was as regional director for Southeast Asia, including all domestic and duty free markets. In the next two years, she was with Kraft General Foods as VP Strategic Planning Asia Pacific and in 1992, she moved to Brown and Williamson, a tobacco company, as VP-Southeast Asia, moving up to become its first woman and first Asian corporate vice president.

Smoking being not good for the health, she quit and moved to Timex as Asia Pacific director, from 1995 to 2006. From the year 2000 in that company, she was allowed to start and invest in the Timex Duty Free business. Her last position there was as regional director, Europe-Middle East- Africa and vice president marketing-international. In 2006, she quit Timex and started the Harston Group, a Hong Kong registered family company representing well-known brands in the duty free markets.  

With her in this venture are her son Hans Eulenhoefer (based in Florida) and Stephanie Hum, based in Toronto, Canada. Her other daughter, Kirsten, is married to Greg Norman, an Australian professional golf player and entrepreneur. The Harston Group, of which Margie is currently a director, is in the business of supplying Timex watches and wines in the duty free shops worldwide.   

It was when her son Hans was here about two years ago that the idea of setting up a wine shop came up. Thus Bibendum was born, basically to fill a need for good quality wines not found then in the Cebu market. For wines, she says she, Stephanie and Hans attend the wine expos held each year: the Vinexpo, held yearly in Bordeaux alternately with Hong Kong and Prowein, held yearly in Germany.

In these expos, she determines what to buy for the company: only wines that are ready to drink and have a high rating (at least 90 percent). This way, with the proper handling of the wines during shipment and in storage (refrigerated), she is sure her clients will get good value for their money.    Speaking of wines, Margie says it is a matter of personal preference. There is no really wrong or the only right wine. Some people want to have wine for every day, and special wines for special occasions, or wine to cook  with for a special dish.

“At Bibendum,” she says,” I would like the people to know about us, about wines. We have really good prices for good wines. My ambition is really to have a good wine business that people appreciate. We will be bringing in more wines and introducing good wines from Portugal, Italy and Australia.” For Cebuanos to know wines, Bibendum occasionally hosts wine-tasting soirees.   

Harston and Bibendum are not all that Margie has in her hands. Soon, she will manage a branch of an employment agency, Omafil Phil., which is Manila-based, but needs  Cebu branch to help fill the manpower needs  abroad. This agency is tasked to hire 800 Filipino nurses for England.   

Looking back, Margie says that in her generation, women of her social status got a college education not really to work. She’s fortunate she had it and was able to make most use of it. But she said, only after her children were in school. As a mother she believes it is important to nurture one’s children during their formative years. As a woman, Margie, like wine, grows better with age.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 21, 2014.

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