Accountant Rick Allert was today elected chairman of the big Australian retailer Coles Myer and will formalise his resignation of major wine producer Southcorp at the company's annual meeting on October 31.

Allert will be succeeded at Southcorp by Brian Finn, a director since 1994. Allert's departure - director of Southcorp and its predecessor SA Brewing Company for 19 years and chairman for 13 - further tightens the grip of the Oately family, who owned the Rosemount business before it merged with Southcorp.

Southcorp's A$1.5 billion (US$825m) merger with Rosemount early last year, was quickly dubbed a reverse takeover. The Oatley family is Southcorp's largest shareholder with almost 19% of the total.

Chief executive Keith Lambert is married to Rosalind Oatley daughter of Rosemount founder Bob Oatley. Lambert, Bob Oatley and his son Sandy are board members. Head of winemaking Philip Shaw, chief financial officer Peter Cleaves and global marketing director Chris Hancock were all senior Rosemount executives before the merger and, since, have presided over a hectic period of change and rationalisation.