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Boyar denies sell-off rumours

Published:  23 July, 2008

Leading Bulgarian producer Boyar Estates has denied rumours that it is planning to sell its Blueridge and Shumen wineries.
The company, which has 60% of Bulgaria's UK sales, has closed its London office and has transferred distribution to Ehrmanns. But Boyar CEO Margarit Todorov denied the rumours, and told Harpers that production was continuing at the two sites.

One wine industry insider, who asked not to be named, described the situation as a public secret in Bulgaria', while others have said they would be sorry if Boyar disappeared from the country's wine map.

Vili Galabova, commercial director of Vinimpex, the export arm of the Belvedere wine group, said that she would be sad to lose a big player' if any deal went through - but she also claimed that Boyar had offered to sell its Shumen winery to Belvedere earlier this year.

And Ivan Zahariev, MD of Winez, the UK-based subsidiary of Bulgarian winery Stork Nest Estates, said it would be a pity if Winez was the only Bulgarian company with a UK presence.

But Todorov was defiant: We haven't sold anything. There have been some rumours around, and the UK office has closed. The Bulgarian wine industry has shrunk, and we couldn't justify keeping the UK office open, but our wineries are not for sale, and production is still going ahead.'

Todorov admitted that Italian textile firm Miroglio had shown a serious interest' in the Blueridge winery earlier in the year, but that discussions had come to nothing.

Boyar celebrated a PR scoop in spring 2004 when its sloping' brand Blueridge brand - and corresponding Ridge Cut' hairstyle - was featured on Channel 4's Richard and Judy Show. The company received less favourable coverage a year later when it was disqualified from the 2005 Golden Rhyton awards ceremony over allegations of inconsistencies in tasting samples.

Stork Nest Estates is investing E5 million in 600 hectares (ha) of new vineyards. The vineyards will be split into three areas in Bulgaria, and the company also plans to extend its award-winning Valley of the Roses range with the addition of a dual-varietal, possibly a Merlot/Shiraz blend.