Les Grands Chais de France is poised to buy wine brand Calvet, despite protests from workers at owner H. Mounier.

The French wine exporter - one of the country's biggest - confirmed today (29 November) that founder and chairman Joseph Helfrich has signed a letter of intent to acquire Calvet. The transaction, for an unspecified cost, is expected to close in the coming weeks.

Last week, however, employees at H.Mounier reportedly went on strike in protest at the sale. Speaking to just-drinks today, a spokesperson for Les Grands Chais said that the process is at a very early stage, and the company had not yet spoken to staff about changes of position.

Calvet workers, based in Bordeaux, are concerned that they will have to move to Grands Chais' wine facility in Landiras in the Sauterne region - some 30 minutes drive away, the spokesperson said.

"Calvet will benefit from the synergies to be gained from being a part of France's leading wine exporter," the spokesperson said. "This will underpin the continued development of the company and it's international reputation."

"We are focussed on a strategy of building strong brands in Bordeaux."

Les Grands Chais sells 17% of all French bottled wine exports. The company's J.P. Chenet brand is the world's best-selling French wine brand, with annual sales of 7.4m cases.

In September, the company signed a strategic alliance with California's The Wine Group to cover wine markets in the US and Europe. The deal will see Les Grands Chais de France distribute wines from The Wine Group stable, including Gray Fox and Concannon, throughout Europe. The Wine Group will handle the French group's brand in the US.