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Accolade boss to step down ahead of IPO listing

Accolade boss Paul Schaafsma is to step down from the Australian wine company next year, a spokesman from its parent company has confirmed.

Paul Schaafsma is set to step down from the Australian wine company in 2017

The news was rumoured by The Australian Financial review, who cited an internal memo claiming the Accolade boss would step down before the company floats on the stock exchange in 2017.

It was confirmed to db this morning.

Schaafsma, who has steered the company through major restructuring since he joined the company in 2012, announced to the board that he would not remain in the role at the conclusion of Champ’s ownership of the company, but agreed to stay on during its IPO listing in order to ensure succession planning was put in place. This will make sure the future of the company was not in doubt during potential talks with investors as its parent company gets ready to off-load the business.

Michael East, the general manager of its Australian and Asian business, has been confirmed as the new deputy chief executive, and will take on an increasing role in the business over the next few months in preparation of taking over when Schaafsma steps down.

db understands that the listing could take until June next year to be finalised and this would be ensure an “orderly, logical approach”.

“Paul will continue as CEO but during the time, Michael East will be getting more involved in areas not currently in his remit,” they said.

Schaafsma became CEO of the company, which includes some of the UK’s top wine brands, in October 2015 after three years as general manager of the UK, Ireland and Global Partners business. Prior to joining Accolade, he was the general manager UK and Europe of rival company Australian Vintage UK, which he joined in 2005.

East has been at Accolade since 2012 and is a former board member of the Winemaker Federation of Australia. In a thirty year career, he has worked for Fine Wine Partners, the Liquor Merchants Association of Australia, and Southcorp Wines since started his career in the industry at Pernod Ricard Australia in 1985.

Earlier this month the owner of the Australian wine company formally appointing Reunion Capital Partners as corporate advisors to investigate its options in an initial public offering on the Stock Exchange, signaling its intent to offload its majority interest in the company.

At the time a spokesman for Champ PE told db it was “very early days” in the listing process and that no decision had been made as to whether the company would be listed in London or in Australia.

The company has sales of Aus $1b (£483m) per annum and its brands include top selling brands in the UK, Hardys, Echo Falls, Kumala and Banrock Station, along with more recent acquisitions Viña Anakena from Chile and New Zealand’s Mud House.


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