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Mud House aiming high in the UK

Mud House wants to be the UK’s biggest New Zealand wine brand, taking on the likes of Brancott Estate, Oyster Bay and Villa Maria, according to its head winemaker Ben Glover.

Mud House has grown from 10,000 cases in the UK to become a 400,000 case brand in a little over 12 months. Picture source: Majestic Wine

During a discussion with the drinks business last month, Glover, who heads up winemaking for Mud House, said that the brand has expanded significantly since it was bought by Accolade Wines in November 2013, and that the long-term aim was to be Britain’s biggest from New Zealand.

“We would dearly love to be number one in the UK,” he stated, noting that Mud House was currently the fourth largest wine exporter from New Zealand, and the third biggest in the domestic market according to sales analyst Nielsen.

Consequently, Glover stated that Mud House was securely within New Zealand’s big six wine producers, which include Pernod Ricard (with Brancott Estate), Villa Maria, Kim Crawford, The Ned, Oyster Bay and Wither Hills.

Considering other major markets for New Zealand wines, the US and Australia, Glover admitted that Mud House was still in an “early, development phase” in these two countries.

Speaking to db earlier this year, Paul Schaafsma, CEO at Accolade Wines, also stated his intention to take Mud House to a leading position in the UK.

Looking back to early 2014, soon after Mud House was acquired by Accolade – which owns major global wine brands Hardys, Echo Falls and Kumala – Schaafsma said that the New Zealand label was selling just 10,000 cases in the UK.

A little over 12 months later, in springtime this year, Mud House was selling 380,000 cases annually in the UK, making it the sixth largest wine brand in the UK, with plans to become the market’s second biggest from New Zealand by early next year, with double that volume.

Helping Accolade in its endeavor to take Mud House to top spot, vying with Oyster Bay and Brancott Estate, is better distribution: Mud House has complemented its strong presence in Majestic Wine Warehouses with listings in Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, as well as a range of independent wine merchants and the wholesale sector, while Schaafsma proudly told db that the brand is now ‘house’ Sauvignon Blanc at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

The brand has certainly achieved phenomenal growth in the UK since it was acquired by Accolade Wines, helped not only by the distribution network of this company – which is the UK’s biggest wine business by volume – but also its hi-tech UK bottling facility, Accolade Park, allowing the brand-owner to ship large volumes in bulk and bottle in-market – a move that was successfully started in August 2014 for Mud House Sauvignon Blanc, and from now, the brand’s Central Otago Pinot Noir too.

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