Yellow Tail aims for top 10

13 July, 2007

The best-selling wine in the US

could become a top 10 player in the UK market if new distributors Off-Piste Wines realise their ambitions for the brand.


Tail is the jewel in the crown of the Off-Piste portfolio, a company created by Western Wines refugees Ant Fairbank and Paul Letheren after the Kumala business was swallowed up by Constellation.

The Australian brand, which had originally launched in the UK through Stratford's, has yet to make a serious impact in this market - not surprising, argue Letheren and Fairbank, given the stratospheric progress Yellow

Tail was making in the

USA. It is now the fifth highest-selling wine in the world.

"America was doubling volume year after year and it was taking all the focus," says Fairbank. "Now it's plateauing at 10 million cases a year, and the time is right to look at how they're going to attack the UK market. I think they would admit they haven't invested heavily in the UK."

Eyebrows were raised when brand owner the Casella family opted for a small start-up business to be Yellow

Tail's new UK distributor, but Letheren and Fairbank say the Australians saw parallels with the way they had built distribution in the USA. The Englishmen, in turn, were impressed by the simple, low-overhead approach they saw in Casella.

"They believe in the quality of the wine," says Letheren. "John Casella [managing director and winemaker] does not believe in selling wine for a price it's not worth. It made us feel quite reassured.

They have one brand and one style of wine for the whole world. They're not interested in own -label."

Letheren is budgeting for "a million cases within five years", with the prime focus on the multiple grocers. But there are other jobs to do. The portfolio includes a number of South African, Chilean and Italian brands, as well as Frozé - a rosé designed to be drunk on ice.

Aimed squarely at "people who like drinking wine rather than people who know about wine", the Ł4.99 brand

has already ha d a number of listings

with Waitrose, Asda

and Tesco .

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