Distell launches new company for premium wine brands

South African wine company Distell has established a stand-alone company to concentrate on its premium and super-premium wine categories in a move that marks a “significant shift” in its focus.

Libertas Vineyards and Estates’s md Kay Nash

The new venture, Libertas Vineyards and Estates, will be wholly owned by Distell, but will look after all of its premium brands, which include Alto, Nederburg, Durbanville Hills, Plaisir de Merle, Pongrácz, Fleur du Cap and Allesverloren and as well as ‘heritage’ brands Chateau Libertas, Zonnebloem and the Tabernacle.

Previously the premium wines were managed as a division within the company’s multi-category portfolio.

Entrepreneur and marketing specialist Kay Nash has been appointed to head up the new business as managing director.

Nash said the move would provide real focus on the premium and fine wine category while also leveraging the scale that Distell brings in critical parts of the value chain – and the first move would be to “critically review” the large portfolio, as well as consolidating the secondary production from four sites to a single site at Nederburg.

“We have 8 brands and 40 sub-sub-brands operating in 88 markets globally across 22 grape varietals, and spanning 384 SKU’s. The cost of this complexity is significant and it hinders our ability to focus and support winning propositions.”

“We are making bold decisions regarding how we operate and compete and Distell with their strong wine DNA, are championing the need for a new approach. There is recognition that the category is challenging and inherently complex and requires a specialist focus, different culture and entrepreneurial approach,” she said.

“We have 8 brands and 40 sub-sub-brands operating in 88 markets globally across 22 grape varietals, and spanning 384 SKU’s. The cost of this complexity is significant and it hinders our ability to focus and support winning propositions.”

Nash pointed out that premium and super premium wines as a category are growing strongly around the world – around 8% in the US last year.

According to the company’s annual report, its premium wines grew 11.6% in 2018.

Last year the company told db that despite challenges for the UK drinks trade following the Brexit vote, the company was making the British market a focus for future sales growth.

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