Foster's Group has declined to comment on a claim, made by a source to just-drinks, that the firm will not pay bonuses to its Americas wine sales staff for its most recent full-year, following disappointing results.

Bonus payments for the 12 months to the end of June have been cancelled for all sales staff at Foster's Wine Estates Americas, a source familiar with the company has told just-drinks.

An e-mail informing sales employees of the decision was sent on 27 August by Mike Holden, who was last month unveiled as senior vice president of sales at the US-based division, the source said. 

Ed Matovcik, vice president of Foster's Wine Estates, told just-drinks today (1 September): "We have a policy of not commenting on employee salaries or compensation." He declined to comment further.

A copy of the e-mail believed to have been sent to employees says that there will be no payments under the firm's full-year 2009 Incentive Plan, "because of the Americas underperformance".

After a write-down charge on the US-based wine business saw Foster's profits plummet 88% in the year to the end of June 2008, Foster's CEO Ian Johnston said in the group's FY 2009 results last week that "wine returns are not where we want them to be".

He said: "The wine category is bearing the full brunt of a lack of consumer confidence brought on by global economic conditions."

Australia-based Foster's reported group net profits before charges up 4% to A$741.5m (US$612.6m) for the 12 months to the end of June, largely boosted by its domestic beer business.

Following a wine strategy review, published in February this year, Foster's has sought to reorganise its wine business both in Australia and abroad.

Johnston said last week: "All Foster's people now have clear priorities, performance expectations and incentive structures to reflect Foster's strategic imperatives."

Some analysts believe the firm may still look to sell off the wine business, should capital markets continue to improve and the opportunity to do so arises.