General manager Paul Schaafsma reported the findings of his 90-day review of the UK operations to Champ, Accolade’s venture capital owner, last week. Accolade’s strategic direction has been called into question in the past fortnight since the unexpected departure of chief executive Troy Christensen.
Schaafsma told OLN he was “impressed” with the business but added he would be focusing on five areas of change, starting with the structure of its 120-strong head office workforce.
He said: “We need to get the people and the structure right so we have gone through some changes. I was pleasantly surprised because we have fantastic cash and carry, independent and on-trade teams. In terms of retail and supermarkets we will be making some adjustments, but the teams are 95% there.”
As part of the staff review, Morrisons’ wine buyer Melissa Yorke is joining Accolade as senior account manager.
Schaafsma added that Accolade must “get relationships right and be a stronger partner” while capitalising on the opportunity presented by consolidation in the sector, including the high-profile demises of Waverley and several importers.
He said: “We need to leverage Accolade Park, which is key to creating a one-stop shop where we can produce and package wine and have a fully integrated supply chain model. So far our retail partners have been very enthusi- astic about what we can offer.”
Schaafsma said he would also focus on “delivering a winning portfolio”, cen- tred on the relaunch of Hardys next summer to position it as a “quality, premium brand”.
“Hardys was first established in 1853 and has more heritage than Penfolds but we don’t do that justice.” He said: “It should be the jewel in Accolade’s crown. We haven’t done enough with its premium portfolio.”