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Distell reverses course on premium division

Published:  31 March, 2020

South African drinks giant Distell has shuttered its premium wine division Libertas Vineyards and Estates after little more than a year.

Launched as a standalone company in January 2019 to drive growth in Distell’s premium wine brands, among them the hugely successful Nederburg, Libertas will now be reintegrated back into the wider business.

The group will retain most of its premium brands, including Nederburg, Durbanville Hills, Pongrácz, Fleur du Cap, Zonnebloem and Chateau Libertas.

However it is divesting its super premium Alto and Plaisir de Merle brands. “These iconic, ultra-premium brands compete and focus in the super-premium categories and would be sold to owners more focused in this segment, to make them thrive,” said Distell chief executive Richard Rushton.

The group’s focus for its wine business will be on growth for its mainstream and accessible premium segments.

“We have fantastic wine brands, including Nederburg as South Africa’s leading brand,” Rushton said.

“Managing our wine brands collectively will bring significant synergy to the business locally and internationally, further enhancing our ability to meet customer’s needs.”

Wine accounts for around 27% of Distell’s group revenues. It dominates the sector in South Africa, with approximately 36% of the country’s total wine sales by value.

On its launch last year, Libertas MD Kay Nash said: “We are making bold decisions regarding how we operate and compete and Distell with their strong wine DNA, are championing the need for a new approach.

"There is recognition that the category is challenging and inherently complex and requires a specialist focus, different culture and entrepreneurial approach.”