Allied Domecq is to move the UK distribution of its premium Argentine wine brand Bodegas Balbi into its own wine and spirits portfolio, as part of an overall restructuring to bring added focus to its wine division.

The move will see Balbi range of wines move from its current distributor Guy Anderson Wines to Allied with immediate effect. Guy Anderson has been distributor for the brand since its UK launch in 1995.

The move is part of an overhaul that will see Allied refocusing efforts on premium wine, which included the acquisition late last year of Mumm and Perrier Jouet Champagnes.
A source close to the company said: "Realistically you can say that Allied has identified premium wine driving organic growth."

Last year just-drinks.com reported how Philip Bowman, Allied's CEO, believed the wine division should play an increasingly important role in the company's strategy.

It remains to be seen what will happen to Allied's other wines which are distributed out of house, including brands from Rioja and California. However, industry insiders agree that the Balbi move is part of a larger picture that will probably include further acquisitions in the coming year.

On announcing the Balbi move Chris Heath ADSW (UK) managing director said " We have undertaken a detailed review on how we can fully utilise the value of the group's premium wine assets in the UK and have concluded that the time is now right to bring the Balbi range of wines into our portfolio. Guy Anderson has done an excellent job in building distribution and sales and we would like to thank them for their valuable contribution in putting Balbi on the wine map."

Guy Anderson said "We have enjoyed working with the team at Balbi and wish them every success with Allied Domecq."