Dollar dip puts Tahbilk on US course

Winemaker Tahbilk has reactivated its export growth strategy for the US market as the Australian dollar’s recent retreat from parity has made sales to the region profitable for the first time in years.

Winemaker Tahbilk has reactivated its export growth strategy for the US market as the Australian dollar’s recent retreat from parity has made sales to the region profitable for the first time in years.

Tahbilk, whose brands include its flagship Tahbilk range, Four Sisters and McPherson, is on the cusp of a new supply deal for a retail chain in the United States.

In the world’s fastest-growing market, China, the group believes its portfolio of midpriced wines will be protected from the worst of the recent austerity drive, which has punctured once booming sales for more luxury beverage brands.

Better margins on its sales, a weaker dollar and the absence of an overhang of commercial bulk wine gathering dust at its warehouses has helped Tahbilk boost its fiscal 2013 full-year profit to $212,376, up from $51,168 the previous year. Revenue for the year to June 30 was weaker, down to $10.98 million from $13.18 million.

Tahbilk chief executive Alister Purbrick said the smaller revenue for this year was primarily driven by the lack of excess bulk wine on its books that needed to be cleared through its sales channel.

‘‘We had been struggling with excess bulk wine stocks, which we had to sell as best we can,’’ he said. ‘‘Sometimes you have grape-grower contracts locked in when you don’t need them.

‘‘It’s taken a few years to get that under control, but in 2012-13 we didn’t have unprofitable bulk sales to be made – and this had a positive effect on our margin.’’

Mr Purbrick, whose family purchased the vineyard and winemaker in 1925, said the falling dollar had provided just enough impetus to reignite its expansion plans for the US.

‘‘That weakening from $US1-$US1.05 to US90¢-US95¢ might not sound much but has made a big difference to us – it has meant we have been able to get on the front foot in America again,’’ he said.

‘‘So we are starting to drive sales now, whereas we were in a holding pattern before because we couldn’t make margin out of it. Now we can make a bit of profit out of it – and if it went down to US85¢ we’d be absolutely ecstatic.’’

The winemaker is about to sign a new supply deal for its McPherson brand with a US retail chain.

Mr Purbrick said China’s policies of anti-extravagance sparked by the new government had not squeezed wine sales at the mid-priced bracket.

‘‘Certainly from our perspective there hasn’t really been a big or negative impact from that austerity drive,’’ he said. ‘‘I think it has hurt the French more.’’

Related Articles