Matthew Clark restructures wine team as business stabilises

On-trade wholesaler Matthew Clark has restructured and bolstered its wine buying team following its acquisition by C&C earlier this year, as the parent company reports the stabilisation of the newly acquired Matthew Clark Bibendum business.

Matthew Clark’s new wine team (image from C&C Group)

Simone Jerrome, who previously oversaw the Mathew Clark and Bibendum wine teams will head up new four-strong team as wine buying director, supported by buying and technical co-ordinator, Judith Nicholson.

Former Majestic and Wine Rack’ buyer Holly Ninnes has joined to focus on South America, China, Greece, Turkey and Italy, with Richard Masterton moving from the beer buying team to take on Champagne, England, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

Jerrome said the new team would be taking a fresh look at the wine selection and looked forward to presenting the wines at a series of nationwide events next year.

“We’re building on the strong relationships we have with existing brand owners and producers,” he said, adding that the team had already improved its existing range, and discovered new wines and producers for its customers.

Business “stabilising”

The news came shortly after the parent company revealed its half year results, the first since the Irish  and British drinks producer and supplier bought the ailing Matthew Clark Bibendum (MCB) following the collapse of Conviviality in April . The deal also included the subsidiary businesses Catalyst, Peppermint, Elastic and Walker & Wodehouse that made up Matthew Clark Bibendum.

Overall group revenue increased by 186% to €838.7m in the half year ending 31st August 2018,  with an organic increase of 6.4%. Operating profit was also up by 16%, while organic EBIT increased by 4.0%, with net debt also down to €279m at the end of the period.

Matthew Clark Wholesale generated EBIT of €6.8m (£6.0m) for the period, and although Bibendum was loss-making in the 5 month period, the company said it expected the performance to stabilise in the second half.

Shore Capital’s consumer equity research Phil Carroll argued that while the EBIT of the acquired business was not expected to exceed €16m for the current year, the profit level was “not hugely important at this stage” given the distressed state of the business when it was acquired.

“More important for us is the fact that its operational KPIs are getting back to normal levels and the business is stabilising,” he said, adding that “the majority of suppliers were now back on board” with MCB, as proved by the supplier relations and credit terms returning to normal.

“This is interesting because it suggests to us that firstly the competition has not gained too much ground during the period when MCB has been in a distressed state and secondly, it highlights the importance of MC within MCB as a key route to market,” he said.

C&C Group CEO Stephen Glancy said the “absolute focus” of the company had been the stabilisation of the business since it acquired Matthew Clark and Bibendum., adding that by the end of September it had settled £129m of monies owed to suppliers, paid taxes owed of £31m and collected £146m of monies due from customers.

“Both Matthew Clark and Bibendum are unique businesses with great market access and long established reputations and represent excellent acquisitions for the Group. With experienced management in place we are confident that in time these businesses will materially enhance shareholder value for C&C. “

He said that despite the economic and political uncertainty, the company had plans in place to manage various scenarios arising out of Brexit and did not anticipate “material customer or financial disruption.”

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