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The week that was

Published:  06 April, 2018

In case you missed some of the headlines this week on, we have put together a review of the top online news, Q&As, and opinion stories.

Fall of an empire: In what will go down as one of the quickest corporate collapses, not just of an alcohol wholesaler, but any business in UK history, the lightening fast unravelling of Conviviality has left the trade reeling this week.

For the UK’s biggest BWS distributor, which turned over £1.6bn in 2017, to be stumped by a £30m tax bill shows wider cracks in a company that was left vulnerable by a series of rapid acquisitions.

The desire to expand was clearly outlined in 2017’s annual report, in Diana Hunter’s own words, as the “systematic pursuit” of a strategy to take “the core competence of the business, the wholesaling of alcohol, and extend Conviviality’s reach to more consumers across the UK drinks market”.

Some of those acquisitions have since been thrown a lifeline, with Magners producer and Budweiser brewer AB InBev swooping in to rescue to Matthew Clark, Bibendum PLB and the rest of the wholesale side of Conviviality’s ailing business, saving 1,900 jobs and securing supply continuity in the process.

The saga is far from done however, with Wine Rack and Bargain Booze still in limbo – the latter of which has shut many of its stores while it waits to learn its future.

More from our coverage on the links below.

Top Stories: In a further twist to an extraordinary week in wine, the news emerged yesterday that a ruminating buyout of Accolade Wines has been completed.

The leading Australian producer was bought out by multinational investment firm Carlyle Group for AUD$1bn.

And there was yet more Australian-related news via the unfortunate exit of Brown Brothers from the UK after more than 25 years of trading.

The independent Australian company said it had, in conjunction with UK partner John E Fells & Sons, taken the “difficult decision” to remove the brand from the UK due to a combination of reasons making the market “unsustainable” for the business.

Analysis and Insights:
 This week, we brought you an analytical piece from Harpers editor Andrew Catchpole on the fallout and future impact of Conviviality’s collapse on the trade.

Elsewhere, we looked at the closing gap between everyday fizz and high-end Champagne, the independents broadening their remits and a look at the future of ordering wine in the increasingly connected and smart home.

People and Opinion:  Tim Atkin MW looked at the impact of globalisation of wine via the lens of the California versus China debate.

And we caught up with Rachael Leach, director of private client sales at Swig Wines.