The European division of US-based drinks group Constellation Brands is hoping to double in size in the next five years. The forecast was made by Christopher Carson, chief executive of Constellation Europe Limited, on the day the division officially started trading as a result of the integration of Constellation Wines Europe Limited and Matthew Clark.

The new company has retail sales of over £2.5bn and is one of the biggest premium drinks companies in Europe.

Speaking as the merger took place, Carson said: "My goal is to double the size of the business over the next five years by further growing market share in the UK, expanding our business in continental Europe and through strategic acquisitions.

"Constellation is already the biggest wine company in the world and we will continue to drive both the on-trade and off-trade and we will focus on developing our American and Australian brands as well as our premium Cellar Door portfolio.

"I see huge potential, in particular, for our American wines which over-deliver on quality for price.

"We plan to roll out an exciting new communications strategy for Stowells and refresh our approach to cider.

"We will also make the business more profitable and efficient by focusing on bottom-line margins as well as top-line growth."

The integration of Mathew Clark and Constellation Wines Europe will mean up to 20 job losses in the short-term as duplicate posts and job functions disappear but Carson is predicting a programme of job creation as the company expands and grows. Constellation Europe currently has 2,300 employees and he expects that figure to grow by several hundred over the next five years.
          
Carson would not be drawn on specific takeover targets but he said: "I see us focussing on the sectors where we are already strong.

"Customer partnerships will also be extremely important - partnerships with the multiples such as Tesco and Sainsbury and partnerships with the likes of Coors, Carlsberg, Interbrew and some of the regional wholesalers."

Part of American-owned Constellation Brands Inc, Constellation Europe is responsible for the sales, marketing and supply of all wines, cider and drinks brands and from today is one of the top five drinks companies in the UK.

Constellation Europe will soon announce the location of new corporate headquarters close to its current Esher location.