DURBAN – Distell is consolidating its position in South African premium and fine wine by launching Libertas Vineyards and Estates as a new stand-alone company with ownership of all the premium wine brands.

Distell, Africa's leading producer of spirits, wines, ciders and ready-to-drinks (RTDs), relisted on the JSE in May last year, with top brands including Amarula, 4th Street, Hunter’s, Klipdrift, Nederburg, Richelieu, Savanna, Viceroy and JC Le Roux.  

The portfolio of brands under Libertas Vineyards and Estate includes Alto, Nederburg, Durbanville Hills, Plaisir de Merle, Pongrácz, Fleur du Cap and Allesverloren and the unique heritage assets of Chateau Libertas, Zonnebloem and the Tabernacle. 

Libertas Vineyards and Estates’ managing director, Kay Nash, said yesterday that the move was a significant shift from Distell’s previous approach, where premium wines were managed as a division within Distell’s multi-category portfolio.

“We have started the premiumisation journey at all levels in the business, from fine wine skills to brands and brand experiences, portfolio structures, ways of working and new collaborations, and global routes to market. 

"We believe that our actions will speak louder than our words so it's heads down and getting under the hood for a while,” Nash said. Libertas Vineyards and Estates would have an independent board comprising industry leaders.  

Nash said the first priority in the short term would be to critically review the large portfolio. 

“We have eight brands and 40 sub-brands operating in 88 markets globally across 22 grape varietals, and spanning 384 stock-keeping units (SKUs). The cost of this complexity is significant and it hinders our ability to focus and support winning propositions,” she said. 

The group said the new business would also revitalise the iconic Oude Libertas site.

In the year to end-June results, Distell reported a 10.4 percent increase in revenue to R24.2 billion, while normalised earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) adjusted for forex movements increased by 7.4 percent to R3.2bn.