By Andrew Starke

Winemaker Australian Vintage has defied the industry trend of falling wine exports after reporting increases in both sales volumes and revenue.

The publicly listed wine company previously known as McGuigan Simeon announced an increase in volume of sales of close to 10 per cent. It also posted a 7 per cent rise in net dollar sales for the current financial year.

In a progress report issued yesterday (Jun 23), Australian Vintage attributed some of its turnaround to the success of its McGuigan brand in the UK, where it has recorded 32 per cent growth across off-consumption channels.

The news comes as some respite to the embattled company, which has seen its stock value decline by almost 90 per cent over the past 12 months with a particularly steep fall over the month of June.

The group expects to deliver a small operating profit this year but will then need to take into account $128 million in stock write-downs booked in the first half of the year. Australian Vintage will publish its full-year result on August 26.

Chief executive Dane Hudson said the 2009 harvest had finished last month and the company had processed 163,000 tonnes – 11 per cent below last year’s output of 183,000 tonnes.

"The quality is good, with some excellent parcels, particularly from our premium vineyards in South Australia," Hudson said. “We are also pleased with the grapes coming from our vineyards in Sunraysia and the Riverland.”

Australian Vintage’s share price rallied slightly on the news but remained at 15c per share at 11am on June 24, down from 19c seven days ago.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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