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Wine Label Sale Breaks New Ground For Industry

Wine Label Sale Breaks New Ground For Industry

A New Zealand winemaking company has broken new ground by selling its name and brand to a major overseas producer without transferring ownership of any New Zealand vineyards, land or production facilities.

In what has been described as a "win-win arrangement", Kim Crawford Wines Ltd has been sold to Canadian wine producer, marketer and distributor, Vincor International Inc. In terms of volume, Vincor is North America's fourth largest producer and marketer of wines and related products.

Multi-award winning winemaker, Kim Crawford is to remain the company's winemaker for at least five years. Company Principal Erica Crawford is to retain her role as Sales and Marketing Director and is to continue overseeing the company's export strategy.

"Thanks to this sale, we will be able to take full advantage of Vincor's outstanding international distribution network. Our link to Vincor will be especially valuable in strengthening our presence in the all-important North American market and in boosting our emergence as a truly global brand, " says Erica Crawford.

"We anticipate that this development will lead to a dramatic expansion of business, to the benefit both of our label and of the growers from around New Zealand who provide the premium quality grapes used in our wine.

"From the perspective of New Zealand's wine industry, Vincor's purchase of Kim Crawford Wines can only be seen as a win-win arrangement. No vineyards or other land will be moving out of New Zealand ownership. Instead, Vincor has purchased the prestige of our label and the winemaking, marketing and brand-development expertise of the people who built the label up," she says.

Kim Crawford describes the sale as a golden opportunity to put premium quality New Zealand wine in front of an ever-larger public in the world's leading markets.

"It's also going to provide us with advantages of scale and will streamline our operations, enabling me to concentrate more wholly on the making of quality wine, which is my chosen field of expertise and one of my great passions in life," he says.

The Kim Crawford label was first launched in 1996. The company is now New Zealand's tenth largest winery in terms of global sales and the sixth largest in terms of sales within New Zealand. During 2002, it achieved its highest ever sales volume of 86,000 cases.

The label recently won four gold medals at Auckland's Royal Easter Show and was judged "Best of Nation" for two years running at the San Francisco Wine Competition. The company was the first to bottle quality New Zealand wines using the now internationally accepted screw-top closures.

"We have had several years of experience of working with Vincor through its US subsidiary, R.H.Phillips-Hogue, which has distributed our wines in the United States. We've been impressed by the value Vincor places on the spirit and nature of the individual brands with which it has become associated," says Erica Crawford.

"With Vincor's involvement, Kim Crawford Wines will remain a proudly New Zealand label and will retain its commitment to producing premium quality wines. We are looking forward to this exciting new chapter in our company's history.

"It's truly satisfying to have nurtured a New Zealand brand to a point at which it is internationally respected and capable of attracting an overseas investor such as Vincor. It shows what New Zealand companies can achieve in the development of brand value and expertise," she adds.

Vincor's purchase of Kim Crawford Wines has been approved by the Overseas Investment Commission.

Within the New Zealand domestic market, Kim Crawford Wines will continue to be distributed by Glengarry Hancocks.

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