Retailer at liberty to profit from liquor

LIQUOR retailer Patrick Stephenson continues to profit from his Liberty Liquors venture, close to a year after selling the business to national supermarket giant Woolworths.

On Tuesday, WA wine producer Evans & Tate revealed it had bought two labels developed by Mr Stephenson, which he had retained after the sale of Liberty, for an estimated $70 million.

He was paid in a mixture of cash and shares by Evans & Tate. Both the Justin Jackman and Orchestra brands will be used to supply Woolworths in a deal for 132,000 cases, which will be worth $7 million in revenue to Evans & Tate over five years.

After the announcement, Mr Stephenson said the move ended, at least for the time being, plans for a wine company he had been looking at launching. He was associated with Nedlands-based The Orchestra Wine Co Pty Ltd, which has registered the name Orchestra Vineyards.

Evans & Tate executive chairman Franklin Tate told the company’s annual meeting that the brands were purchased at a good price.

Mr Tate also revealed Evans & Tate would spend $1 million on a building to house a $1.5 million bottling plant to be built by Portavin, which will lease the building.

He said the development was important due to increasing hygiene demand in the export markets. According to Mr Tate, European supermarkets are expressing reservations about mobile open bottling plants, which are typically used by smaller WA wineries to avoid the cost of static plant.

Evans & Tate remains in the market for acquisitions after sealing the Oakridge deal for around $6 million but it seems the heat in the market has prompted it to keep its ambitions chilled for the moment.

Sources within the company are expecting the coming vint-age to flush out a few more assets as price expectations in the market recede following this season’s vintage.


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