Bordeaux-based wines and spirits group William Pitters is withdrawing from the Chinese market but is poised to acquire vineyards in California and Chile.

Quoted in French newspaper, Les Echos, group chairman Bernard Magrez said the group should have pulled out of China three years ago like Pernod Ricard adding that the loss-making activities would be sold off to undisclosed Chinese parties.

William Piiters owns 26 vineyards in seven countries (France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Uruguay, Argentina and China ) covering 1,950 hectares. It has almost 1,000 hectares of vineyards in Morocco.

In 2002, William Pitters posted a pre-tax profit of just over €8m from a turnover of €80m.