Marc Hasenfuss Investors Monthly editor, writer & columnist

It’s taken a few years, but shareholders in liquor conglomerate Distell can surely now taste just how much CEO Richard Rushton — a former SABMiller executive, appointed in 2013 — is fortifying the business model. The standout slide in the company’s recent investment presentation covering the six months to December displayed Distell’s success in pushing through above-average price increases on its best-selling brands, which include top-selling ciders and ready-to-drink beverages (RTDs) like Savanna, Hunter’s and Bernini. The bulk of the increase of about R1bn in interim turnover to R14.4bn came from price increases — an achievement, considering the prolonged economic hangover. It also testifies to the strength of Distell’s array of brands. Ciders and RTDs reported a 1.2% volume increase, but managed to grow revenue a sprightly 8.3%. Wine dropped 4.2% in volumes, but this was offset by a 4.4% gain in revenue. The recent decision to pack the premium wine brands into a standalone compan...

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