Accolade Wines, which owns popular on and off-trade wine brands Jack Rabbit, Hardys and Banrock Stations, has been sold to a US private equity firm today (5 April).
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Former owner and private equity firm Champ originally paid AU$290m for an 80% stake in the business in 2011. Champ had links with the UK’s Matthew Clark distribution business, before divesting from it in 2015.
Champ CEO John Haddock said: “Accolade represents the best of private equity ownership: taking the time to develop a business, investing in multiple areas of the business and orientating the company towards a growth opportunity that has many years ahead of it.
“We followed a deliberate strategy of creating a New World wine platform so that we now have winemaking operations in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States and Chile, while also premiumising our local offering through the acquisitions of Grant Burge Wines and the Fine Wine Partners portfolio, which included brands such as St Hallett, Petaluma and Croser.”
It is believed the new owners will look to grow Accolade’s presence in China, said LGB Corporate Finance managing director Angus Grierson.
“The deal will help cement Accolade’s well-established brands in the Asian region, enabling the business to further capitalise on the increasing Chinese middle-class demand for wine,” said Grierson.
“The value of wine exports to mainland China grew by 63% in 2017 and if US wines are subjected to higher tariffs when imported into China, it would directly benefit Australian companies, like Accolade, knocking on China’s front door to capitalise on a growing market.”
The announcement follows a rise in the sale of English and Welsh wine, according to new data from HMRC.
The latest figures show that that 3.86m bottles of sparkling and still wine made in UK vineyards were released for sale in 2017, a 64% increase on the number of releases in 2016.
The increase is the latest since the year 2000 when just 1.4m bottles were released from bond.
Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) chief executive Miles Beale said: “English wine releases reached a record high in 2017 with more varietals and vintages available, giving consumers a greater choice than ever before.
“This is great news for English winemakers who have been gaining international recognition over the past few years, leading to an impressively stocked trophy cabinet. With the high quality of English now so widely recognised, the wine industry’s newest challenge is meeting growing demand.
“The English wine industry is a true British success story and has ambitious plans to increase exports. We hope to see production continue to grow and forge ahead with new export opportunities.”