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Constellation to announce integration plans as more senior staff are shed

Constellation Brands is expected soon to announce plans for further integrating its Australian and UK operations.

Constellation UK’s president, Troy Christensen, has been in Australia for two weeks overseeing development of the plan and is to remain another fortnight.

A source close to the company said that possible plans included splitting the company’s premium and commercial brands into separate business units.

They also included increasing the company’s portfolio of low-cost commercial brands by acquiring brands from Australian Vintage, which supplies a number of own-label wines to UK retailers as well as owning popular premium brands Miranda, Passion Pop and Sunnyvale and the premium McGuigan, Nepenthe and Tempus Two brands.

Since May Christensen has also had responsibility for the company’s Australian and New Zealand operations along with John Grant, president of Constellation Wines Australia (CWAU), reporting to him.

Company spokesperson Sheralee Davies confirmed that Christensen had last Wednesday told staff that details would be announced within a fortnight.

As for the detail of the plans, Davies said CWAU did not comment on speculation. No reply was received in response to a call to Australian Vintage chief executive Dane Hudson.

Meanwhile, the company is continuing to make senior executives redundant, with two key executives leaving last week: senior vice-president international sales, Hamish Baldwinson, and senior vice-president operations and technical, Pete Dawson.

Dawson had been with the company for almost 31 years and Baldwinson for 15 years.

Two other senior executives and a key staff member left in May, shortly after the departure of senior winemaker Rob Bowen.

Meanwhile, on August 28 Constellation is planning to close the Leasingham winery at Clare which it has not been able to sell.

Davies said it would be maintained in working order and remain on the market along with Stonehaven winery at Padthaway.

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Written by Chris Snow in Adelaide

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