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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Ron Emler

Stephen Millar, the head of Constellation Wines, said that he wants to expand in Europe. We are looking at Europe,' he told Harpers in an exclusive interview. We have the ambition and drive to be a truly global wine company and that includes the biggest production area in the world. But we first have to take advantage of the growth in New World wines in the key markets of the world. That's clearly where the major opportunities lie.' One of the highest priorities is to grow distribution of New World wines in Old World markets,' added Millar. As far as buying Old World production facilities goes, they will very much be driven by what Old World wines we will be able to sell in the US and the UK.' He hinted strongly that the popularity of Pinot Grigio would lead Constellation to focus on Italy first. We really have to have distribution of Old World Wines in the Old World market. That would tend to lead us to companies that have strong distribution in their domestic markets. For instance, we wouldn't look to buy an Italian producer that didn't have a strong domestic distribution position. We want the distribution chain established, particularly in those countries where we can find the right agent to start with and work with them to establish a long-term partnership, rather than having to set up from scratch. The targets will be strong brands with strong domestic distribution. They are not at the top of the list now but if any came up we would obviously look at them. In a few years' time, I would be surprised if we don't approach some of them,' Millar said.