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KWV targets premium gap in the market with North South Wines

Published:  29 February, 2016

Leading South African wine producer KWV has appointed North South Wines as its UK distributor, taking over from Leeds-based Bottle Green, which was acquired by Kingsland Drinks early last year.

The new arrangement will come into effect on April 27.

KWV, which has won the Veritas Awards wine producer of the year for the fifth year in row, plans to target what it perceives as a gap in the market between entry-level and super-premium South African wines in the UK, with a particular focus on premium channels.

It also wants to expand its foothold among independents, regional wholesalers and convenience stores.   

It is the third change to its UK distribution KWV has made in the last five years.

It appointed Manchester-based agency Myliko Wines in autumn 2012, and then replaced it with Bottle Green in autumn 2014.

The decision followed the acquistion of Bottle Green by Kingsland, which is one of the largest bottlers of bulk wine in the UK.

Lisbet Olsen, KWV's regional business manager for Europe, said: "The UK wine market is in flux, and it is therefore ever-more important that we have a defined channel strategy, reflected by our choice of importer.

"The Bottle Green integration into Kingsland gave us an opportunity to review our strategy and our key fit into the market.

"As a result of this, we have mutually decided that we needed a more focused UK partner, with an emphasis on the premium channels where we think we can offer something unique.

"North South Wines is a young and vibrant business which has demonstrated key successes in the sectors which we are targeting, and we look forward to working with it.

"The opportunity for South African wines has never been more exciting."

Joy Edmonson, brand development director for North South Wines, said: "South Africa is producing some of the southern hemisphere's most exciting innovation at present with the help of a new crop of bright spark, young winemakers.

"This, coupled with the incredible value South Africa can offer, is a compelling opportunity for all involved in the UK wine business.

"We are thrilled to be capturing this zeitgeist with KWV, who have fantastic brands with real heritage, and unrivalled access to regional sourcing from their own growers across the Western Cape, together with a winemaking team who have helped elevate KWV to become South Africa's most highly awarded winery in the last three years."

KWV is one of South Africa's leading wine and spirit producers, but has consistently underperformed in the UK market over the years.

International brands include Roodeberg, KWV Wines, Laborie, Golden Kaan, Cathedral Cellar and Café Culture.

North South Wines was launched in 2014 as a specialist, direct-supply wine distributor with multi-channel expertise.

Founded by Kim Wilson and Joy Edmondson from Ehrmanns in partnership with ex-Nyetimber finance chief Hamish Gillespie, it is part-owned by three wineries: Italy's The Wine People, De Bortoli from Australia and New Zealand's Waimea Family Estates.

In addition to those of its co-owners, the company currently distributes wines from a further 17 estates from around the world, with an particular emphasis on Italy and Spain.

New World partners include Seven Springs and Painted Wolf Wines from South Africa.