Accolade UK accounts, 2017 indicative grape pricing

Accolade accounts 

The last Accolade Wines UK accounts published by Companies House are up to the end of June 2015. They show an impressive rise in profit over four years:

Year Pounds £ Australian $ at today’s rate
2012 657,000 1,108,400
2013 10,128,000 17,086,600
2014 14,785,000 24,943,300
2015 22,910,000 38,650,700

The 2015 report shows UK and Europe turnover of £617.3 million, split:

  • UK: £578.1 million
  • Mainland Europe: £39.2 million

The huge difference shows the strength in the UK, but it’s surprising Accolade hasn’t done more in Europe, unless it classes the Nordic countries as outside mainland Europe. Then again, Nordic sales could be the majority of the above figure. However, this is doubtful, as Sweden, the largest Nordic wine importer, only lists 16 Accolade products, five from Australia, on Systembolaget, the state-controlled retailer.

It’s also not clear if Accolade Wines North America and South Africa are included in the UK figures.

The 2014-15 turnover was down from the previous year’s £625.63 million but the profit increase more than made up for the drop.

A report in the media last week said Accolade was on track to generate $100 million EBIT for 2016, split between the UK and Australia. Going by the 2015 figures that looks about right.

Aldi accounts

According to an article in The Sydney Morning Herald on 13 December re Aldi accounts:

“More light has been shed on the tax affairs of the secretive German supermarket Aldi, with the latest Tax Office figures showing it paid $71.56 million in tax in 2014-15. 

“Aldi Foods had total income of $5.8 billion for the 2014-15 financial year, taxable income of $238.5 million and tax payable of $71.56 million, Australian Taxation Office figures for the 2014-15 financial year show.” 

Crunch time

An article on the ABC website by Stacey Lymbery on 13 December reported on the Riverland crunch time for 2017 indicative grape pricing.

Crunch time is 15 December. It’s the date on which wineries that are signatories to the Australian Wine Industry Code of Conduct are required to provide their Riverland growers with indicative regional prices for the coming vintage.

It sounds simple but it’s a bucket of snakes and rabbits. The rabbits are the growers, as they have little in the way of bargaining power. The snakes are the wineries that are signatories to the code of conduct, the latest list on the WFA website being:

Signatories Joining Date
Accolade Wines Jan 2009
d’Arenberg Pty Ltd Oct 2012
Ballast Stone Estate Wines Nov 2012
Balnaves Vineyard Services Pty Ltd t/as Balnaves of Coonawarra Oct 2009
Bleasdale Vineyards Pty Ltd May 2013
Brown Brothers Milawa Vineyard Pty Ltd Jun 2013
Campbells Wines Pty Ltd Jan 2014
Cheviot Wine Group Jun 2013
Colbinabbin Estate Vineyard Management Pty Ltd May 2013
Cumulus Wines Pty Ltd Jun 2013
Difabio Estate Wines Pty Ltd Jun 2013
Dorrien Winemaking Sep 2013
Eden Road Wine Company t/as Eden Road Wines Jun 2013
First Creek Wines Jun 2013
Fleurieu Vintners Pty Ltd t/as Boar’s Rock Jun 2013
Fowles Wine Jun 2013
Fox Gordon Pty Ltd Jun 2013
Gemtree Vineyards Pty Ltd Jun 2013
Heartland Wines Pty Ltd Jun 2013
Henry Holmes Wines Pty Ltd Dec 2009
Kirrihill Wines Pty Ltd Sep 2013
Limestone Coast Wines Pty Ltd Jun 2013
Lion – Wine Pty Ltd Dec 2013
Lowe Wines Dec 2013
Oakridge Wines Pty Ltd April 2015
Pernod-Ricard Winemakers Mar 2009
Ramco Wine Group Mar 2013
Rusden Wines Mar 2011
Samarkan Pastoral Co Pty Ltd t/as Coombe Farm Dec 2013
Seppeltsfield Wines Pty Ltd Oct 2012
Serafino Wines Jun 2013
Shaw and Smith Pty Ltd Jun 2013
Shingleback Wine Pty Ltd Jun 2013
Tahbilk Pty Ltd on behalf of The Tahbilk Group Jun 2013
Tinlins Wines Pty Ltd Oct 2012
Treasury Wine Estates Aug 2009
Trentham Estate Jun 2013
Tyrrell’s Vineyards Pty Ltd May 2009
Voyager Estate (WA) Dec 2013
Wirra Wirra Vineyards Dec 2012
Yalumba Wine Company Dec 2012

From the WFA website:

“The intention of the Code is to set minimum standards for Agreements between winegrape growers and winegrape purchasers. The Signatories acknowledge that providing a framework for fair and equitable dealings between Signatories and winegrape growers and an impartial, cost effective dispute resolution scheme is important for harmonious relations.

“Signatories to the Code acknowledge their existing legal obligations (for example, under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010) not to engage in misleading or deceptive behaviour or unconscionable conduct.”

The snakes hold the power because they twist and turn around the intention of the code, as a Riverland grower (whose name we have withheld) told TKR:

“Indicative’ prices are released in vague, imprecise tables of confusing classes and grades and misleading blather about baumé penalties. Subjective assessment, often from big glassy offices, hundreds of kilometres from vineyards is still the name of the game in inland Australia.”

In the ABC article Riverland Wine executive officer Chris Byrne is quoted saying the prices should be released earlier:

“Riverland Wine should not be pressed to pre-empt price indicators but for the majority of members, enough is enough. 

“Surely it can’t be that difficult to let partners (growers) know what to expect. It’s the decent thing to do.”

For nine years the same game has been played. Basically, the prices are withheld until the last possible moment and then there are so many get-out clauses for the producers that the growers have little chance of getting a fair price for grapes.

Riverland Wine put out a chart suggesting the following increases for 2017:

Byrne says: But nothing has changed. Over the nine years since the code was signed the same game of ‘follow the leader’ in the lead-up to December 15 has disappointed all those who’ve worked to build trust and confidence in each other.”

In the ABC article Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) CEO Tony Battaglene is reported as saying there is a problem with indicative pricing, but he is not convinced there is a deliberate lack of transparency.

Surely Mr Battaglene is speaking from la-la land. He would be aware of the feelings of growers, as in the above quote from a Riverland grower.

But its Battaglene’s job to support wineries, not growers, and he can hardly admit his members are screwing growers. He’s only just in the job and already acting more like puppet than leader.

ABC article: Mr Battaglene said he does not think the wineries are taking advantage of growers.

TKR response: Pig’s arse, Mr Battaglene. Let’s take Accolade as an example. Accolade takes about 200,000 tonnes of Riverland grapes. It is also planning on listing next year. On the recent roadshow to potential investors Accolade said it was on track to turn a profit of $100 million this year.

Add $10 to the price per tonne of grapes and that’s an extra base input cost of $2 million. It could be $4-$5 million. Accolade will do its utmost to keep costs down, profit up and no price increases for its products next year.

TKR has been informed as yet unsubstantiated, Accolade has offered the following indicative prices to Riverland growers for the 2017 vintage

Variety 2016 Average prices Suggested 2017 prices Possible Accolade offer
Shiraz $334 $400+ $352
Cabernet Sauvignon $347 $400+ $364
Merlot $358 $365+ $375
Dry Red $282 $320+ N/A
Chardonnay $294 $335+ $310
Sauvignon Blanc $348 $350+ $368
Pinot Gris $480 $490+ $490
Gordo $212 $200+ $215
Dry white $203 $225+ N/A

The three big one’s shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay fall way down on the suggested prices, gordo, pinot gris, sauvignon blanc and merlot are within the ball park but are smaller amounts. There is also all the trickery used in downgrading fruit and baumé penalties that take place.

It’s a smaller crop along the river this year maybe the rabbit can pin the snake.

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