UK hailed as key market in global wine business

04 July, 2013

Australia’s fourth-largest wine supplier hailed the UK as a key strategic market in the global wine business and said it will not turn its back on Britain in the face of a poor exchange rate and difficult trading conditions.

McWilliam’s is ramping up its focus on the UK market by handing its premium ranges –which include the Evans & Tate, Brands Laira and Mount Pleasant brands – to Stevens Garnier to push into the UK off-trade, particularly independents and specialists.

PLB will continue to distribute its core McWilliam’s brand and its Weight Watchers range.

Export director Lloyd Stephens told OLN: “We are doing things differently to everyone else and we are ramping up our focus on the UK while a number of other Australian businesses are saying enough is enough.”

McWilliam’s sells around 400,000 cases a year in the UK. 

“We see the UK as hugely strategically important to the global wine market and we are committed to it,” said Stephens.

“McWilliam’s retains confidence in the UK market.

“We are the number four bottled wine producer in Australia, behind Accolade, Pernod and Treasury, and we are the largest family-owned company without a stock exchange to answer to so we can take a long-term view.

“The exchange rate has been hard for the last two to three years but it’s starting to drop off a little bit in the next few weeks.

“The Australian economy has been fuelled by exports to Asia but we think the currency will come back into line and exports to the UK will pick up.

“Australia has some great wines to offer and not all of them in the past have found their way to the UK so we are just pleased to be doing our bit.”

Stephens said PLB have previously had limited some of these wines in the past but most are new to the UK.

He added that PLB was among the distributors considered for the new range, but that Stevens Garnier was a perfect fit.

“PLB still has the McWilliam’s brand and the Weight Watchers portfolio so there is plenty to go round,” he said.

“We talked to PLB about taking on the premium wines but it’s a question of really specialising. It’s not about PLB not being right – it’s more about Stevens Garnier being absolutely right.

“The opportunity to bring our premium ranges to the UK with Stevens Garnier is great because those guys know how to sell premium wine.

“PLB are great at what they do, as are Stevens Garnier. But we have a number of brands from all the key regions of Australia and it’s very difficult for one distributor to do a very good job on multiple brands.”

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