Distell’s premium-wine offshoot aims for the top
Richard Holmes delves into Distell’s new wine company
"I’m in the business of wine; I’m not in the wine business," says Kay Nash emphatically. That may seem like splitting hairs, but it’s a subtle distinction that’s helping the CEO of Libertas Vineyards & Estates, the new premium-wine offshoot of drinks giant Distell, to shake up the company’s high-end wine business. "It’s a complicated category, and on the one hand not having deep wine experience is a disadvantage … but the upside is that I don’t have vested interests," says Nash, whose managerial CV ranges from Vital Health Foods to Kagiso Media. "I don’t have a network, I don’t have a history in the industry. That’s allowed me to bring a new strategy and operating model, to look for a way to be more profitable, more collaborative." The launch of Libertas in January is the latest step in Distell’s efforts to make its premium-wine portfolio more profitable. In 2017 it dissolved its Lusan partnership, selling off iconic estates including Neethlingshof, Le Bonheur and Stellenzicht. That...