Succession planning and wine or wild rumours

Planning the next move

Wine industry specialist lawyer Will Taylor is on his annual roadshow around the regions. The ABC interviewed Taylor while he was in the Hunter Valley. The interview focused on succession planning, and it was all sound advice, including this:

“The Australian wine industry is made up by a huge number of family businesses.

“Fortunately most people in the wine industry seem to be pretty good at keeping the conflicts private. Some other industries haven’t been quite so good.

“One thing that we always write into the documentation associated with a family wine business is… a clause…  requiring them to sort things out by mediation or arbitration, which is private, unlike court proceedings, which are public.

“[Public action is] not good for a family… it’s embarrassing, and it’s not good for a brand if the family behind the brand is known to be squabbling about it.”

One wonders if the Barry family from the Clare Valley are consulting Mr Taylor on speeding up their succession planning.

On the grapevine

Rumours: one has to love them. The latest is that a large portfolio of wine brands, all premium, from both sides of the Tasman, is on the market. Put another way, expressions of interest are being sought. It may be true, and it wouldn’t surprise me, but equally it could be waffle. We shall see.

The Wine Front ( has been in the news after some naughty people set up a pirate website with a similar name. The idea was to use the reputation of the Wine Front (which is high) and its reviews to direct consumers to retailers, earning the pirate a referral fee. Apparently legal action is taking place. The rumour part of this is that is that Campbell Mattinson is said to be giving up reviewing wines for the James Halliday Wine Companion.

An article in the Financial Review, by Sarah Thompson, Anthony Macdonald and Joyce Moullakis on August 29, says Paul Schaafsma is to relinquish the Accolade Wines CEO position. Schaafsma has only been in the role since last October and this is an exciting time with the proposed float early next year. As the article says:

“There’s been a slightly puzzling development in the looming $1 billion float of Australia’s second biggest wine company.”

Is it puzzle or rumour?

“An internal note to Accolade staff is understood to say that Schaafsma didn’t want to commit to the role for the next few years but is happy to stay on and help with the listing process.”

Apparently Michael East (general manager Australia and Asia) has been appointed deputy chief executive and will take over as CEO at a later date.

It’s not difficult to imagine there is great pressure in the company at the moment, maybe too great for Schaafsma.

This is not rumour but Romanian. Have you ever wondered where the wood for IKEA furniture comes from?  Neither had I. IRI Investments is an IKEA subsidiary that manages forest acquisitions in Romania.

It has 33,600 hectares of forest in Romania and is looking to add a further 12,800 hectares. The money has come from a capital raising of €40 million ($59.3 million). Nothing to do with wine, just a quirky fact.

Enjoy whatever rumours come your way this coming week, and pass them on. Be safe and happy.


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