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Bill Hardy praises £10m brand investment

Bill Hardy has praised Champ Private Equity for investing in the Hardys brand, rather than focusing solely on cuts.

Fifth-generation Hardys winemaker Bill Hardy has told Decanter.com he is thrilled by Champ Private Equity’s plan to spend £10m to ‘revitalise’ the Australian producer.

Champ managing director John Haddock announced the investment at a dinner in London this week to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the McLaren Vale winery, which is owned by Champ-controlled Accolade Wines.

‘We are going to make a good company a great company,’ he said.

Speaking to Decanter.com the day after the dinner, Hardy said he was delighted that Champ had shown such public commitment to the brand, although he does not expect the relationship to last forever.

‘It thrills me that Champ have taken this attitude. The chances are that in the medium term they will want to sell us on, or list us, and they want the business to be well-structured and seen to be successful. They are willing to invest to do that.

‘I thought increasing the value would mean making the company leaner and more streamlined by fine tuning and cost saving, but it’s clear they want to make it a bigger and more sensible global wine company.

‘I think the £10m may go towards other investments in other parts of the world, to make the business a more global offering.’

A company spokesman told Decanter.com that the investment ‘is being made in marketing and the overall revitalisation of the brand at a global level, which is currently being rolled out. This will be supported by above and below the line promotion.’

In June as part of the 160th anniversary of the company, Hardys relaunched its dozen different ranges, encompassing some 75 wines ranging from the entry-level Stamp of Australia and Nottage Hill to the icon Thomas Hardy and Eileen Hardy.

A ‘William Hardy’ regional varietals range was launched last year, and Hardy described the £9.99-a-bottle Shiraz and Chardonnay as a ‘first step up from the bigger blended commercial wines’.

Accolade is the biggest wine company by volume in the UK and Australia, having been formed in 2011 after Constellation Brands spun-off control of the business. A period of transition followed, culminating in the abrupt departure of Accolade CEO Troy Christensen last year. Paul Schaafsma subsequently took the reins of the key UK business.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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