Close Menu

Just Wines is buying up Australian drinks firms at speed

Australian company Just Wines continues its acquisition rampage with the purchase of Beer Cartel; further evidence that the company is becoming an ever more influential player.

In August 2023 Australian wine retailer Just Wines snapped up alcohol-free drinks specialist Sans Drinks for AU$1.8 million. The narrative was that it had “rescued” the collapsed company which had appointed administrators after racking up debts of more than AU$2 million.

Eight months later, Just Wines spotted a similar opportunity when Liquor Loot fell into administration, and wasted no time in buying the craft spirits firm for $1.2 million. At the time, Just Wines founder and managing director Nitesh Bhatia said that the purchase would “broaden our market appeal and strengthen our competitive position”, though Liquor Loot also owed a considerable sum ($2.6m) to creditors.

Three months on from the Liquor Loot acquisition, Bhatia has moved again, this time to buy online craft beer store Beer Cartel. Announcing the buy-out today (8 July), Bhatia said that the most recent addition to his portfolio means the group now “covers all main liquor categories in Australia.”

Bhatia claims he does not want to “revolutionise” the successful Beer Cartel business, but instead wishes to “integrate our key capabilities into these great organisations to grow their customer base”.

Just Wines is clearly on a path of strategic expansion, but where did the company spring from?

Founded as a private company in Sydney in 2012 by Indian-born Bhatia and his brother, both having previously worked in the family’s furniture business, Just Wines initially specialised in selling wines from small producers in Australia and New Zealand.

By 2018 Just Wines had become the second biggest retailer in Australia, and Bhatia has said he has ambitions to increase his website’s offering to 10,000 products. To do so he plans on schmoozing boutique Australian wine producers, the kind, he says, “who may not have a website. It might just be a husband-and-wife team, but they’re unique wines you can’t find anywhere else online in the country.”

However, it is currently possible to find wines from considerably larger brands, including Hardy’s and Jacob’s Creek, on the Just Wines platform, suggesting that the firm’s business plan may have broadened its remit.

Move to the UK

In 2020 the Australian wine industry was rocked when Beijing imposed devastating tariffs of between 116.2% and 218.4% on Australian wine imports into China. Following the blow, Just Wines established Just Wines Online Limited in the UK, headquartered in Norfolk, England, in 2021.

According to filings at Companies House, for the year ending 31 March 2023, total assets for Just Wines’ UK arm were £107.35k, up £20.12k (+23.06%) compared with 2022.

The sky-high China tariffs on Australia wine were finally lifted in March 2024 and Aussie producers were quick to respond, shipping wine worth AU$86 million (£44.7 million) to China, in the first month following the reprieve, according to Australia’s trade minister Don Farrell.

Bhatia’s competitors will be watching to see whether he continues to invest in the UK arm of his business, or pivot back to Just Wines’ Australian roots now that trade is once again possible with China. Either way, with three key acquisitions made in 11 months, we are likely to hear much more about Just Wines in the near future.


It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No