In the 2023 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum, Hill-Smith Family Estates showed that even after 173 years of history, innovation is still possible.

For Hill-Smith Family Estates (HSFE), producer of iconic wine labels including Yalumba, Jansz Tasmania, Oxford Landing and more, 2022 was a year of significant change.

The biggest change was the introduction of a new brand identity for its umbrella business, which has definitely been a positive for the company, as CEO, Karl Martin, explained.

“In September we launched our new group identity, Hill-Smith Family Estates. This is our new inclusive company name incorporating all our iconic wine brands and vineyard estates, our fine wine distribution businesses, and our Yalumba Nursery,” Martin says.

“HSFE has enabled our wine brands and distribution businesses to retain their individual identities and at the same time provide us with a group identity to show how they are all connected.”

Prior to introducing this new name, HSFE undertook a restructuring of its business in late 2020, with the positive impacts beginning to be felt across the company.

“We are realising the opportunities this investment provides, with our people having greater capacity and capability servicing our customers across all channels,” Martin said.

“It was most pleasing to see this validated by our trade customers as evidenced in the 2022 Advantage survey where we improved our ranking from 13 to six across all liquor suppliers.”

Another key step the company has taken over the past year is to produce its first Annual Sustainability Report, released in September of 2022.

The report talks to HSFE’s “philosophy, values, and the specific goals and actions that are keeping us busy and focused,” according to Martin.

“We are committed to generational sustainability, and it is not just a story we tell, it’s inherent to who we are and what we do. We know that sustainability is a long journey and is a key consideration for every part of our business as we look forward to the next 173 years,” Martin continues.

“Our partnership with Sustainable Winegrowing Australia (SWA) continues and we have invested significant resources to support our growers to become SWA certified. From the 2023 vintage onwards all our equity brand wines will have the Trustmark on the label.”

And responding to environmental impact was highlighted by Martin as a key focus for HSFE in 2023.

“Given the well-documented industry supply position, and an extremely wet spring experienced by most wine growing regions, seeing through vintage 2023 will be an immediate focus for our viticulture and winemaking teams to ensure we align our wine make to future sales aspirations,” he said.

Finally, this will be landmark year for the company’s Samuel Smith & Son distribution wing, which will celebrate 100 years as a fine wine distributor in Australia.

“The business has received incredible support from our trade customers and local and international agency brand partners since being established in 1923, and we will look to acknowledge these long-standing partnerships appropriately next year,” Martin concludes.

Find more from the 2023 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum here.

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