SOUTH AFRICA: BRL Hardy seals JV with South African partner

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A relatively unknown South African wine company has pipped its more established competitors by landing the first major joint venture by linking up with international giant BRL Hardy of Australia.

At a joint press conference in Cape Town today the two companies confirmed they had been in discussion for the better part of the year after the Australians set about looking for an African partner.

Over the past two years, KWV and Distell have made their intentions clear that they would be interested in joint ventures to help boost their sales worldwide and will have been caught offside with this announcement.

The Stellenbosch Vineyards/BRL Hardy team intend launching the yet to be named brand into the UK and another three or four key markets in Europe by September, according to MD of  BRL Hardy, Europe, Christopher Carson.

Stellenbosch Vineyards, which was established five years ago, is a privately owned major producer in South Africa, making about 850,000 cases of wine annually, according to MD, Hermann Böhmer, who shared the platform with Carson and BRL Hardy's Australian MD, Stephan Millar.

BRL Hardy had looked at about 15 companies before shortlisting three.

"After that it was easy, the chemistry was there - Stellenbosch Vineyards have the right mindset, we share the same vision and that made the task simple," said Millar.

Both companies were reluctant to give any further details about the launch of the product at this stage, but Carson said that he had approached a number of interested parties who said they would be keenly interested.

Millar also stated that the 50-50 partnership in the new brand would provide and opportunity to establish a quality, value for money, innovative South African brand into the European marketplace.

"It is also in line with our strategy of establishing BRL Hardy as one of the world's leading international producers and marketers of wine and we are pleased to have Stellenbosch Vineyards as our South African partners," said Millar.

In answering a question, Böhmer said he did not see the competition of a new joint venture brand hurting his existing brands, Genesis, Kumkani, Welmoed, Versus and Helderberg, but rather enhanced their status now that the mother company had been linked with a major international player.

Companies: KWV Ltd, Distell

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