Even though the strengthening of the Rand was having a detrimental affect on Distell's export figures, the company was taking advantage of being able being able to acquire expensive necessities such as oak wine maturation barrels.

The company was making these and other necessary procurements, while identifying new growth opportunities in a tough business climate, according to MD, Jan Scannel, at the Stellenbosch-based company's AGM yesterday.

He said fortunately less than half the company's export revenues were in dollars with the rest mainly in euros or other currencies, against which the rand had fared better.

At R7-$1 the Rand had strengthened by about 50% in the past two years making trading difficult for local wine and spirit exporters.

This together with a decline in domestic interest rates and inflation was expected to boost the local market providing further impetus to brands which have done exceptionally well during the past year.

The majority of the Distell's brands had out-performed their respective market categories.