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South African wine giant in the making?

By Greg Sherwood
E-mail : Sherwood@cis.co.za
16th September 2000

‘Globalisation’ and ‘Internationalisation’ are the wine industry buzzwords most likely to crop up (pardon the pun) in long, wordy, merger and restructuring reports that must have been passing from one in-tray to another, and from one office to another, within the Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery (SFW) and the Distillers Corporation.

The roller coaster that is ‘merger mania’ has started to roll and senior management is buckling up for a long and bumpy ride. At stake in the proposed union of these two companies is 60% of the local wine and spirits market and 90% of the brandy market, with an annual turnover of 400 million.

And if you thought all the reverberations of change would be restricted to air-conditioned Stellenbosch boardrooms, then think again. Any restructuring is sure to have a profound and visible effect on the many successful brands rooted in the ownership of these companies. Just like in a high-stakes poker game, the assets are busy being counted.

The SFW can boast the famous estates of Plaisir de Merle and Nederburg, and the well known brands of Zonnebloem and Chateau Libertas, while Distillers, until recently, held Le Bonheur, Uitkyk and Alto (now all part of the Lusan joint venture), together with Neethlingshof, Stellenzicht and the new Durbanville Hills winery.

So, if you are thinking about getting involved the SA wine industry, now is a good time to start applying for any advertised Sales, Marketing and Management positions, because after the ‘shake-out’ at the above two corporates, you might just be up against a whole new wave of job seekers!

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