Yalumba's chief executive, Robert Hill Smith, is set to step down as the Australian wine group's chief executive after three decades in the role.

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Yalumba said today (4 February) that Robert Hill Smith (pictured) will relinquish the CEO role from 7 March. However, he will remain at the wine group as chairman. The current chairman, Peter Barnes is set to retire.

Hill Smith, a fifth generation member of the family that founded Yalumba in 1849, was among the youngest chief executives in the Australian wine industry when he was appointed back in 1985. His tenure has coincided with Australia’s rise as a major wine exporter.

Barossa-based Yalumba produces around 2m cases of wine per year and one of its biggest export brands is Oxford Landing.

Nick Waterman will replace Hill Smith as CEO. Waterman left a career in software engineering to join Yalumba in 2002. In 2009, he became executive director for strategy and trading and, since mid-2014, he has been Yalumba’s chief operating officer.

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Written by Chris Mercer