Distell boosts US presence

11 January 2008

South African wine and spirits maker Distell has struck a deal with AV Brands, one of the US’s top 20 spirit importers and distributors, to promote two of its leading products – Amarula Cream Liqueur and Durbanville Hills wines – in that country.

Distell, recently listed as the world’s tenth biggest wine marketer by international beverage data specialists Impact Databank, previously had its Amarula and Durbanville Hills brands imported and distributed in the US by Brown-Forman, for a period of six years.

It already has an agreement with AV Brands to import and market two of its global lifestyle wine brands, Two Oceans and Obikwa.

In a statement on Wednesday, Distell said the move came in the wake of AV Brands’ success with Two Oceans wine, which it had succeeded in listing with several leading US grocers, including Hyvee, which has 220 stores in the mid-west, 200 Publix stores mostly located in the south, and some 500 Food Lion stores located in the south and the mid-Atlantic region of the US.

“AV Brands has rapidly developed the Two Oceans footprint across the US,” said Distell head of international operations Don Gallow. “We believe it has the potential to do the same with the additional two brands, particularly given its new leadership that enjoys an excellent reputation in major brand building.”

Based in Columbia, Maryland, AV Brands currently sells over a million cases of international brands a year, including famous sherry brand Tio Pepe, as well as a range of wines from Spain, Italy, Argentina and Chile. Amongst the high-profile brands it represents are Luna di Luna (Italy), Caliterra (Chile), and Quara (Argentina).

The importer-distributor, one of the top 20 in the US in terms of turnover, was recently acquired by the Cordoniu Group of Spain, producers of 11 still and sparkling wine brands in Spain, Argentina and California.

“AV Brands has always said it doesn’t aim to be the biggest marketing company but one of the best, focusing on the organic growth of its current trading partners, while acquiring prestigious new brands,” Gallow said.

“That Amarula and Durbanville Hills are regarded as strategic additions to its portfolio is an affirmation of the attraction these brands hold.”

‘Great potential in the US’
According to Distell, Amarula is South Africa’s biggest international liqueur brand, with an extensive global reach, and is the second biggest liqueur of its kind globally, while Durbanville Hills is one of South Africa’s leading wine brands.

Gallow adds that Amarula will have a dedicated marketing team to advance the brand’s presence in the US.

AV Brands’ president, Roy Danis, previously of WJ Deutsch & Sons, was closely involved in the success of Australian brand Yellow Tail, now the biggest imported wine label in the US, selling some 10-million cases annually.

“We are proud to represent more of Distell’s portfolio in the US, strengthening the relationship between our two companies and our long-term commitment to each other,” Danis said. “We believe both Amarula Cream and Durbanville Hills have great potential in the US and we shall continue to build on the strong foundation started by Brown Forman.”

SAinfo reporter

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