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Félix Solís splits from Free Run Wines

Published:  18 July, 2013

Spanish wine producer Félix Solís Avantis is to take over control of its UK operation from Free Run Wines as it establishes its own office in the UK under the leadership of former Bibendum director, Richard Cochrane.

Free Run directors, Charles Elms and Nick Bauer, have approached Felix Solis to buy back the 24% share the winery has in its business. According to Felix Solis, an "agreeable deal has been reached" and although they would not disclose any numbers, Bauer told Harpers that Free Run is a debt free business. Customers will be transferred from Free Run to Felix Solis by January 1, 2014.

Elms and Bauer insist the deal will not affect their business going forward.

Bauer told Harpers that Felix Solis accounts for 30-35% of Free Run's business in value terms and that it is "not a percentage that is making us worry about Free Run's viability in the forthcoming future".

He added: "Although the outside world associates us with Felix Solis which is normal after 12 years of fruitful collaboration, Free Run has many other products and suppliers in its portfolio. We would not have made this step if we were not confident in the future."

The directors said they didn't think their relationship with major multiples would be affected by the deal because the company "is trading with all of them in one form or another outside Spain".

The biggest opportunity, according to Bauer, will be for Free Run to "build on a strong portfolio outside Spain which currently encapsulates every corner of France, Champagne and New Zealand". The company also plans to continue to developing its own brands, which includes Les Calades.

Felix Solis's London office will be based in Canterbury, with Cochrane as managing director. Cochrane said:

Cochrane said: "Spain is an interesting place - it has the sunshine-in-a-glass of the New World and the traditional elements of the Old World. Many regions are not well known in the UK and my challenge is to move it from a value solution to a place where regional diversity comes alive."

In a stement Felix Solis said: "Charles and Nick have helped make the UK the corner stone of our business since starting Free Run Wines in 2001, with around 20% of our total exports now coming to the UK and Ireland. I would like to personally thank them and the excellent team at Free Run Wines for the vital role they played in our growth and wish them and Free Run Wines every success in the future."

Felix Solis is a debt-free, privately owned family business, with 50 million euro earmarked for investment across its business.