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October 11, 2022

The Wine Group appoints CEO to “unlock new growth”

John Sutton has taken the helm after 15 years at the California-based group.

By Jessica Broadbent

The Wine Group, one of the largest wine suppliers in the US by annual revenue, has appointed John Sutton as CEO to “unlock new growth” at the company.

CFO John Sutton has stepped up into the role after 15 years at the Benziger brand owner. He succeeds Cate Hardy, who had been CEO since September 2020.

The group told Just Drinks Sutton’s focus will be on “unlocking new growth and expanding TWG’s wine and beverage business”.

Last week, the California-based company announced it had bought six wine brands – Cooper & Thief, Crafters Union, The Dreaming Tree, Monkey Bay, 7 Moons, and Charles Smith Wines – from fellow US wine group Constellation Brands.

Sutton officially took on the role in September. He joined the company as its first in-house attorney in 2007, before becoming CFO in 2015. Prior to that, he worked as an attorney and had a stint at The White House as special assistant to deputy chief of staff.

In a statement, the group said: “As TWG expands its wine and beverage business, John Sutton has been appointed CEO. John joined TWG in 2007 as general counsel and was named CFO in 2015. During that time, he led the finance, legal, information technology and business process improvement functions. John has been a board member at TWG since 2013 and is the past chairman of the board of the Wine Institute.”

The Wine Group, which also markets wine brands including Concannon Vineyard and Franzia, said last week the deal with Constellation was an “expansion and diversification into premium and premium-plus categories, as well as the luxury category”. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The company said the purchase meant it moved from being the third-largest wine company in the US in revenue to the second-biggest. It does not disclose its sales.

Constellation said the sale involved “a portion of its mainstream and premium wine brands”. Last year, Constellation offloaded a chunk of its “popular and mainstream” wine and spirits business to US peer E&J Gallo.

The Corona beer maker explained that the latest disposals were part of a strategy to compete “predominantly in premium and fine wine and craft spirits”. It added it will continue to invest in what it called its “remaining strategic mainstream wine-and-spirits assets”. Those brands include Woodbridge wine and Svedka vodka.

Robert Hanson, the president of Constellation’s wine-and-spirits division, said: “A key driver of our success has been our relentless focus on consumer preferences, including long-term, consumer-led, premiumisation trends and remaining agile in our approach to stay ahead of evolving marketplace dynamics.”

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