Evans & Tate is to embark on an aggressive overseas sales drive in Europe. At the wine company's annual meeting last week, shareholders heard how the company intends to boost overseas sales from their current level of 6% to 45% of the group's annual sales.

Executive general manager Phillip Osborne told shareholders that "45% of our business will be in the UK and Europe" at 30 June next year. The company acquired Cranswick Wines in March of 2003, and will contribute a full year of figures for the first time, before the target date.

The wine company will also begin negotiating sales deals with the big UK supermarket chains, through the hiring of former BRL Hardys executive Len Bodill.

Bodill has been appointed managing director of Evans & Tate Wine Group (Europe).

He joins E&T from BRL Hardy where he was trading director UK.

E&T CEO Franklin Tate said: "The group's growth in the UK/European market has been largely due to the opportunities created by the acquisition of 51% of Australian Wineries UK, which occurred with the Cranswick purchase last March.

"Our aim to increase sales in both markets will be a key responsibility of Mr Len Bodill. Mr Bodill has been appointed to represent the Evans & Tate Group to large retail chains and to act as leader for the sales and marketing team."

Tate continued: "His appointment coincides with a reorganisation of our reporting lines and corporate structure for the UK business. We believe we now have the right resources in place to drive the business forward."

E&T also announced that David Combe had resigned from the board of the company, effective immediately. HE had been with the company since 2001, after leaving Southcorp Wines as its senior vice president international.

The company cited personal reasons for the decision to leave.