Accolade UK’s CFO steps down

Accolade Wines UK’s chief operating and financial officer is stepping down from the Australian wine giant, db can reveal.

Chief operating and chief financial officer Steven Gorst will step down from the role after four years, a statement from the company to db today confirmed, with Gorst leaving the company at the conclusion of his notice period early next year to spend more time with his family in Canada.

The news that his directorship was terminated was filed on Companies House on Thursday last week.

Gorst joined the company in October 2013 from the Canada Malting Co, the country’s largest food ingredient and malting company, where he was President.

It is the latest in a string of high profile departure at the company in the last two years, both in the UK and Australia. It follows the departure of UK General manager Rob Harrison in March, who was appointed to the role December 2015 after Paul Schaafsma was promoted to the CEO role in Australia. However Harrison stepped down after 15 months to pursue alternate career opportunities, with Ade McKeon named as his successor.

There have also been sweeping changes in the Australia head office, with Schaafsma shocking the industry by quietly announcing to the board his intention to step down as CEO within a year of his appointment in September 2016. He apparently cited the announcement by private equity owners Champ PE’s decision to offload its 80% stake in the business  as the reason for his departure. Deputy chief executive and former general manager of the Australian and Asian business Michael East was appointed in his place, officially taking over in September, however following the news that the IPO listing was “on-hold”, East announced in April that he would take early retirement as originally planned.

He was replaced by chairman Jim Anderson, a director of the company and managing director of Accolade’s private equity owners Champ PE since last May.

In April, Accolade UK saw its revenues tumble by nearly £104 million with operating profit down £10 million in the year to 30 June 2016, according to consolidated financial accounts filed at Companies House. The report filed at Companies House said the company “continued to operate in a highly competitive trading environment, which had resulted in the reduction in revenue and operating profit,” but that the directors were satisfied the results were in line with expectations.

The group is the largest wine business in the UK with brands including Hardys, Kumala, Banrock Station, Mud House, Geyser Peak and Echo Falls. In September 2015, it acquired Accolade Wines Chile SpA for £12.8m, (formerly Agricola y Foresto Arco Iris SA) bringing Chilean wine brand Viña Anakena into its portfolio.

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