John Ballard officially begun his tenure as CEO of the embattled wine giant Southcorp today.

In a statement the company said: "We advise that Mr John Ballard commenced duties as chief executive officer of the company today," Southcorp said in a statement. "Mr Ballard has been appointed to the board as managing director of the company with immediate effect."

Ballard replaces Keith Lambert who was asked to leave by the board following a January profit warning and then a 97% fall in first half profits to A$5.7m. Southcorp paid Lambert A$4.4m in February. Lambert had been 18 months into a three-year contract when he resigned.

Peter Cleaves the company's chief financial officer earlier this month also left the group.