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Specialised squad for wine work

ACCOUNTING giant Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu has established a specialist team in its WA operation to focus on the wine industry.

The Perth-based wine practice group joins similar specialist units interstate, recognition by the services firm of the growing need for corporate advice in the local wine industry.

WA-based Deloitte’s partner Luke Martino and account director Andrew Johnson will join about 20 of the firm’s staff concentrating on this sector.

Although the pair will not work exclusively on wine, they believe the business has become so big it can support significant dedication.

WET tax, financial reporting, strategic planning, capital raisings and e-business are some of the areas in which Deloitte offers its services to wine companies.

Deloitte already considers some of the more corporate minded producers, such as Palandri and Xanadu, as clients.

WA has four listed wine companies in Evans & Tate, Xanadu, Hotham and Vincorp, though the latter is little more than a dormant shell.

The three other listed players have engaged in their fair share of corporate activity of late, as the industry rationalisation at the global end of the business has had an effect on the local arena.

After a dramatic expansion – from 149 wine companies in 1996 to 208 in 2001 – the WA wine industry is expected to change significantly as new commercial pressures come to bear on traditional cottage industry-style players, as well as newcomers who have underestimated the cost of sustaining a wine production base.

For the past three years, Deloitte has held an annual benchmarking survey of the Australian wine industry, which allows wine producers to measure their performance against their peers. The information includes type of ownership, vineyard cost ratios, crush volumes against total wine production, production costs and distribution data packaged in a confidential database.

Deloitte is set to embark on collecting data for its fourth survey.

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