Stellenbosch-based wine producer and exporting company Winecorp has seen its loss-making business jump into profit for the six month period to the end of January compared to the same period in 1999. The company attributed the gains to an increase in sales and the benefits of restructuring.

Winecorp reported net profits for the period of R2.2m ($275,344), compared with a R8.9m ($111,389) loss for the same period in 1999.

A UK wine distributing company, Private Liquor Brands (PLB) has acquired a strategic 10% share, at R4m ($500,625), in Winecorp, which is a listed company on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange's Security Exchange.

Joint MD, Johan Laubser said the buy-in by PLB, which has strong channels into supermarkets in the UK, had in turn strengthened Winecorp's ability to grow in that market.

"It is one of the biggest distributors of wine in the UK, particularly to supermarkets. We also see this as a vote of confidence, which impacts positively on our levels of service and quality.

"At present we export about 80% of all our products and this is growing to 85%, with the majority going to the UK, with most of the rest going to Germany, Holland and Scandinavia."

The buy-in also increased Winecorp's issued share capital by 10% from about 45.2m shares to approximately 49.7m.

Besides the deal with PLB, Ashwood Wines has also been bought and the integration of the new labels is expected to be beneficial on the domestic market.

Headline earnings for the company were 4.2c a share, up from a loss of 3.5c a share. Turnover was almost double at R41.2m ($5.1m).

Shares have held steady on the JSE at 37c each.