Stellenbosch Farmers Winery (SFW) has sold off all the brands in its non-alcoholic drinks division for R15 million (£1.3m), as its merger with Distillers Corporation starts taking shape.

Bromor Foods, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cadbury Schweppes South Africa, bought the entire Natural Beverage stable in a deal which will see the company gaining a sizable chunk of the carbonated fruit and energy drink segment of the beverage market.

The deal was given the go-ahead by the Competition Commission and comes into effect tomorrow (Friday 1 December 2000).

The brands include, Polar Ice, Monis Classico, Superjuice, Traubisoda and Matchpoint brands to their portfolio, Bromor has entered the carbonated fruit and energy sector in this highly competitive market.

SFW is shedding its non-alcoholic beverage division so that when its upcoming merger with Distillers, expected early next month, takes place - the new company can focus on its alcoholic beverage divisions, both locally and internationally, said Andre Steyn, SFW's director of corporate and industrial affairs, who brokered the deal.

Even though Cadbury Schweppes is the holding company in South Africa, the local Schweppes brand has been sold to Coca Cola.

Bromor managing director, Chris Rowan-Perry said the newly acquired brands would add a valuable dimension to his company's consumer offerings.

Bromor has a small food division, mainly in the baking sector, but is primarily a beverage company.

It previously concentrated its portfolio on non-carbonated fruit and energy drinks such as Energade, Halls, Cedar, Oros and Brooks fruit squashes, which are national brands, while Fun Blast, 11 in 1, Giant Joes, Sweeto, Esto and Rodneys are regional brands.

Except for a small tomato cocktail, it is also a break into the can market, with Bromor's other brands being sold in plastic bottles.

Although Bromor Foods takes over ownership from tomorrow, SFW will continue to produce the range of juices under contract for Bromor. Most of these beverages are produced at SFW's Monis plant in Paarl, while Monis Classico is produced at our Stellenbosch premises."

"The transitional period will allow Bromor to develop the necessary technical expertise, while making arrangements to transfer production to its own facilities in due course.

"The sale was not expected to result in any SFW job losses. The Natural Beverages sales force has been absorbed into the overall SAFW sales force. Moreover, the production unit at Paarl will continue to produce these products for Bromor," said Steyn.

A Bromor spokesman in Cape Town said the various unions representing the employees in both companies had been kept in the picture regarding the transaction.

Monis also produces a range of fortified wines, which will remain in the SFW stable.