Distell, the South African wine and spirit group, has extended its presence in key European wine markets through an agreement with Oddbins, one of the UK's leading off licence chains.
Oddbins has repeatedly been voted the best wine retailer in the UK, and Distell said that it had been instrumental in the success of Australian wine there. Australia is now the second largest supplier of wine to the UK after France, and is gaining rapidly on its European rival.
While this is not entirely due to Oddbins, the chain is credited with being the first to stock a substantial range of Australian wines, and Distell is clearly hoping that Oddbins will give a similar boost to South African wines in the UK.
Distell has been expanding sales of its wines throughout the world and has recently signed an agreement with Albertson's, one of the leading food retailers in the US, concluded its first deal in Canada and clinched large-scale orders in both Germany and Scandinavia.
Kim Green, Distell's marketing manager for wine, said that the initial Oddbins order was for wines in the Fleur du Cap range, as well as two new brands, Obikwa and Oracle, to which Oddbins has exclusive rights in the UK. The UK - one of the most dynamic wine markets in the world - is clearly a priority for Distell, which also recently expanded its London sales office, adding a new national accounts manager, Lee Ellis. Ellis has over 20 years' experience in the UK liquor trade and was involved in the marketing of the US range Blossom Hill, now one of Britain's top-selling wine brands.
Don Gallow, head of Distell's international operations team charged with overseeing all new export business negotiations, said: "The Oddbins deal indicates an endorsement of the value/quality ratio offered by the company's wine brands across a variety of price points. It's a very encouraging start and we obviously hope to build volumes further as the relationship with the chain evolves."
Gallow confirmed that Fleur du Cap had also earned a trial listing with Albertson's, which has stores in 31 US states. "Although the Albertson's order involves just 62 stores in the chain at this stage, it represents an important breakthrough in that it is Distell's first wine listing with a supermarket chain and could offer considerable scope for growth."
Distell's New York office is taking its Durbanville Hills and Two Oceans brands directly to the market, exploring opportunities in New York state, while Obikwa and Oracle will be launched via an agent in the Canadian market early next year. Gallow said the company had elected to service the New York market itself at this stage, investing aggressively in promotional activity.
"Once these and other wine brands gain wider currency, the intention is to appoint marketing agents. For now, we have secured the support of a leading distributor to assist us," he said, adding that other major orders had been negotiated with one of Germany's largest grocery chains that had recently for the development of an own label brand, as well as with the government-run monopolies in Sweden, Norway and Finland.