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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jack Hibberd

Western Wine's major South African brand, Kumala, is poised to conquer the lucrative US wine market following Canadian giant Vincor's 133 million takeover of the Telford-based company. According to Mike Paul, managing director of Western - the largest independent wine distributor in the UK market - the deal presents us with a tremendous opportunity to develop the brand worldwide, and particularly in the US, where South Africa is just starting to take off. The timing is perfect.' The deal - which works out at 84 million when Western's 49 million debt is taken into account - will not affect the day-to-day running of the company, according to Roger Gabb, founder and executive chairman of Western. Customers won't see any immediate changes to the company,' said Gabb. All the present staff are staying and I will continue as executive chairman for another three years, although with a moderate workload.' It is believed that management shareholders have been issued with notes, payable over 42 months, with conditions related to their continued employment at the company. Non-management shareholders have been paid cash. Cono Sur, Western's leading Chilean agency, which is an offshoot of Concha y Toro, is apparently staying with the company. We gave a presentation to them last week and they are very happy with the deal,' said Paul. Gabb added that Western was also excited about working with Vincor's large portfolio of premium brands - such as Canada's Inniskillin, New Zealand's Kim Crawford and Washington State's Hogue Cellars - an area where Western has traditionally been weak. There may be opportunities for us to expand our business in the on-trade and top-end independents; that is something we will have to discuss,' he said.