Having worked with some massive names including Ticketek, SPC Ardmona, and Coca-Cola Amatil, plus establishing and running his own company in the US, Robert Blackwell brought a strong background in retail and manufacturing to his position of CEO at McWilliam's Wines Group. After three years at the company's helm, he's learned the three main challenges of the industry and how to contend with them. "One is surplus wine in the Australian market. Weve got a continuing oversupply of grapes in the Australian market, which impacts on the pricing and the price growth that we can all achieve from the marketplace."
"The second one is retailer concentration; the two largest retailers, Woolworths and Coles, now control over 70 per cent of the Australian liquor market. Thats quite a concentration of retailer. And the third piece is that our export business has been negatively impacted by the strong Australian dollar; when the dollar went over parity, our exports declined considerably in all markets around the world. Theyre the three big impacts on the wine industry."
According to Robert, McWilliam's Wines has one of the most diversified portfolios of any wine business in the country. "We're in five distinct regions: the Riverina district in New South Wales, the Hilltops region in New South Wales, Mount Pleasant in the Hunter Valley; we own the Evans & Tate brand from Margaret River, and we also have the Brands Laira label from Coonawarra."