The joint owners of Accolade Wines, Champ Private Equity and Constellation Brands have agreed to sell their shareholdings in Accolade Wines to The Carlyle Group for a total price of $1bn.

Champ acquired two separate divisions from Constellation in 2011 for $290m and Champ CEO John Haddock said the company decided at that time it would commit to a long-term investment in the business.

“We saw an opportunity, but the wine industry has long cycles so we knew we had to commit to a longer hold in order to realise that opportunity,” Haddock said.

“The two divisions Champ acquired had separate strategies, separate management, operated out of Australia and the UK and were even on separate IT systems. Firstly, we had to bring the two divisions together to create one business.

“We followed a deliberate strategy of creating a New World wine platform so that we now have wine making operations in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States and Chile, while also premiumising our local offering through the acquisitions of Grant Burge Wines and the Fine Wine Partners portfolio, which included brands such as St. Hallett, Petaluma and Croser.”

Champ has also made significant investment in Accolade’s production facilities, with a new bottling and warehousing facility due to open in Berri, South Australia next year, and the company said it was proud of the work it has done in rejuvenating core brands like Hardys.

“I know Sir James and Bill Hardy are very pleased with the renewed trajectory that their family’s heritage brand is taking and since Accolade’s acquisition of Grant Burge, sales have increased by more than 80 per cent,” Haddock said.

He added: “Accolade represents the best of private equity ownership: taking the time to develop a business, investing in multiple areas of the business and orientating the company towards a growth opportunity that has many years ahead of it.

“Champ is proud to have been the custodian of so many widely respected brands, to have contributed to the great Australian wine industry and to have added export value to Australia. We are very pleased that a global firm of such experience and capability as The Carlyle Group will now take Accolade forward.”

The Carlyle Group is a global asset management business, with a total of $195bn worth of assets under its management. The US-based company was founded in 1987 and now has more than 1600 professionals operating in 31 offices around the world.

TheShout has contacted The Carlyle Group for comment on its purchase of Accolade.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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