18/04/2006 - 22:00

Formidable alliance between Lionel Samson and Casama

18/04/2006 - 22:00

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Australia’s oldest operating family owned company has just invited a new guest to the table.

Formidable alliance between Lionel Samson and Casama

Australia’s oldest operating family owned company has just invited a new guest to the table.

Lionel Samson & Son Pty Ltd has formed a new joint venture wholesale wine and beer distribution alliance with the Casama Group from Melbourne under the banner of the Lionel Samson Casama Alliance.

Lionel Samson is a stalwart of the Western Australian business community and the oldest liquor distributor in the nation.

The company was founded in 1829 and remains in family hands.

Casama, a Melbourne-based wine wholesaler for 30 years, with sales offices in each state, has strong familial roots.

The merger will make the Lionel Samson Casama Alliance WA’s largest independent whole-sale wine and beer distributor.

Describing the merger as the ‘evolution of the brand’, Lionel Samson managing director Dick Erskine believes the alliance will benefit each company.

“This venture is about consolidating and strengthening by increasing volume of sales,” he says. “Our aim is to promote growth in WA – we want to double our sales in this state.”

Alliance group manager Rob Fanning says: “Steadily growing our market share is most important to us. We recognise there is a population expansion not only in the Perth metropolitan area but also in the South West and Great Southern regions.

“The areas of Mandurah, Bunbury, Busselton, Margaret River and Albany are home to premium wine producers and we represent many of these important agencies,” Mr Fanning says.

Talk of restructure was on the table at Lionel Samson for two years and prompted a 12-month industry assessment of the company’s position on a national level.

Keen to capitalise on its position in WA but also foster growth on a national level, Casama represented a suitable partner due to its entrenched position on the east coast.

The company’s combined premium beer portfolio now includes products from across Europe, the UK, Thailand, the US and India.

The alliance’s very extensive wine portfolio features a who’s who of premium WA wineries, as well as wines from South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, New Zealand, US, Italy, Spain and France.

Prized members of the stable include Plantagenet Wines, which is owned by Lionel Samson, and Yellowtail Wines, Australia’s  largest wine exporter on the back of the phenomenally successful chardonnay.

The new business will have three separate operating divisions – red+white, Mezzanine and Lionel Samson – each with a dedicated sales team.

Casama’s well proven reporting and stock management software systems will be integrated into Lionel Samson’s portfolios.

As a brand, Lionel Samson now comprises five separate businesses. Liquor distribution, although the company’s foundation business, now represents less than one third of the company’s total revenue.

“It is where this company started and is something very important to the family,” Mr Erskine says, emphasising that extensive due diligence was carried out to find the right alliance partner.

“Consolidation in the liquor industry is nothing new. It happens all the time but with a family business it brings other points into view.

“We entered this with the highest possible standards, treating the principles with proper manners. In terms of business integrity we are nicely aligned with Casama.”

Although business operations will move to South Perth, where Casama has existing infrastructure, Lionel Samson will retain its historic offices in Fremantle.

“This is a strategy to remain independent,” Mr Erskine says. “But we could never get rid of this building.”

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