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Philglas & Swiggot wine merchant bought by industry consortium including Justin Knock MW

Published:  09 December, 2014

Independent London wine merchant Philglas & Swiggot has been bought over by Justin Knock MW and business partner Damien Jackman, backed by a consortium of investors from across the trade.

Independent London wine merchant Philglas & Swiggot has been bought over by Justin Knock MW and business partner Damien Jackman, backed by a consortium of investors from across the trade.

Philglas & SwiggotJustin Knock MW and business partner Damien Jackman buy Philglas & Swiggot

The pair have formed an investment consortium that includes Charles Harman, co-owner of Klein Constantia, and Gareth Penny, owner of Penhill Estate near Robertson in South Africa. Harman and Penny have run some of the world's leading companies, including BXR Partners and De Beers.

Philglas & Swiggot has three branches, one in Battersea's Northcote Road, one in Richmond and another in Marylebone. The outlets were purchased for an undisclosed sum, and the new owners intend to retain the name.

Knock, who also works as a winemaking consultant for Encirc and makes his own wines, will be hands on in the business while still pursuing his other interests.

Jackman also has plenty of industry experience- a qualified lawyer he was Treasury Wine Estate's general counsel  for Europe, Middle East & Africa for almost five years, and now runs the One Hundred Wine group, which produces wines from Australia and France.

Knock told he and Jackman had been talking to Philglas & Swiggot owners Karen and Mike Rogers over the past year about buying the business.

"We're really excited about taking over. [The Northcote Road branch] was my old local shop when I first moved to London 10 years ago. Every time you go in you want to buy wine - it's got a lovely feel about it," said Knock.

Knock described working with consumers as a "great thrill", saying he started out in wine retail in Sydney. "I know what hard work it is - but it's also really satisfying and fun."

"The UK wine trade is a tough place to do business - route to market is one of the hardest things to control."

He is looking forward to doing projects with specially selected winemakers, saying: "In the end, the only important people in the wine trade are those making and drinking the wine." The previous owners would admit there have been "opportunities they haven't taken up in the last five to eight years, so it's a good platform for us to build on," Knock said.

"The London independent wine trade is an exciting space right now," said Jackman. "Mike and Karen have built a fantastic business, and we're proud to be the custodians of their legacy. It was important to them to find the right partners to take over their creation and we know they're looking forward to seeing the next chapter unfold nearly as much as we are."

Philgals & Swiggot has not enjoyed as high a profile as other independents in the media, Knock said, adding that he and his business partner were looking to change that. "There's so much that's good about the brand - it just needs some investment and fresh ideas."