ALG washup provides a boost for wine export pair

WHILE the directors of Australian Liquor Group remain tied down with legal action from the Coles-Myer takeover, one of the group’s earliest proponents is setting a new course with a WA export business.

Bruce Cullam, who sold his Knox Liquor stores into the pre-listed ALG for a mixture of cash and shares last year, has been granted a wholesale licence for premises in West Perth.

He and business partner, Peter Jeffree, hope to ship 100,000 cases a year, mainly to Europe, where they already have established markets in the huge supermarket trade.

They have their own brand called Thirsty Bay and are also handling exports for producers’ own brands, such as Bill and Dan Pannell’s Pickety Wines at Pemberton.

“We are exporting our own labels,” Mr Cullam said.

“We are looking for large quantities of wine.”

Mr Cullam said WA’s wine production was set to double in four years due to the huge plantings that have taken place, and his new business hoped to capitalise on wine producers’ need to find export markets.

Last year, Mr Jeffree also sold his two Bunbury-based Con’s Liquor stores into ALG at the same time as Mr Cullam. The men had formed something of a mini-buying group for their discount style stores.

Mr Jeffree recently bought a liquor store in Manning.

Both have done well out of ALG. The company paid big prices for liquor stores in the run-up to its listing and, less than a year later, Coles made a bid at $1.20 a share, well above the 65 cents to 70 cents range the stock had traded in just before the takeover was announced.

Mr Cullam said he had sold 1.5 million shares at the takeover price.

Apart from the legal action, the Coles takeover of ALG has had other ramifications in the market.

It is understood leading members of the independent Porters chain have abandoned their efforts to buy the name back from Coles and will, instead, rebrand their stores Harvest and Giants.


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