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New Accolade CEO says Australian wine must remember its roots

Australian wine should never forget where it came from while pursuing a more upmarket strategy, according to the newly appointed CEO of Hardys owner Accolade Wines.

Paul Schaafsma, who takes over as Accolade CEO from John Ratcliffe this Thursday, praised Australia’s renewed focus on regionality and premium wines.

But he added: ‘I’ve always said it’s about balance: we need the engine room of the Australian wine industry to work. Our rationale for being in the UK started with being consistent in terms of flavour.

‘We can never forget where we came from. Having commercial wines that deliver that flavour and value is essential. However, there’s much more to Australia than that.’

Schaafsma, currently Accolade’s general manager UK & Ireland, has expanded the company’s market share in the UK by over 70% in his three-year tenure, including rapid growth for Hardys and New Zealand’s Mud House.

He told decanter.com that key challenges included the planned growth of Mud House in the US and the development of recent Chilean acquisition Anakena.

Paying tribute to predecessor Ratcliffe’s building of ‘a really good platform’, Schaafsma said: ‘My job is to take that opportunity to grow our business in the various markets and ensure that we leverage the brands as best as possible moving forward.’

He also highlighted the positioning and potential of acquisitions Geyser Peak from California and Grant Burge from the Barossa Valley.

‘It’s laid a platform to allow us to take the business forward commercially in a number of different regions around the world,’ said Schaafsma.

Ratcliffe will take on the role of deputy chairman and will continue to advise ‘on the strategic development of the company’, Accolade said.

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