When John Halewood launched his Club Royal Montilla fortified wine brand from his garage in 1978, he raised a few eyebrows in the drinks trade. Now Halewood International is on its way to becoming a truly international drinks company. With 350 staff, it supplies spirits, wines and sparkling drinks to the major UK supermarket chains. John Halewood, a former Gonzales Byass salesman, opened a large fortified wine factory in Yorkshire in 1987. He expanded into Romania in 1991 to get monopoly rights over red wine exports to the UK. He now runs Romanian trade through Vinexport, a joint venture with European partners, and Prahova Winecellars, a Romanian company in which Halewood has a majority share. Halewood Wines and Spirits has achieved profit growth of 101% pa, from £1.3m in 1995 to £10.6m in 1998. Turnover in the same period grew by just 14% pa to reach £119.8m. Halewood attributes the company’s profit growth to economies of scale delivered by the building of its large plant in Huyton, near Liverpool, in 1995. Another factor is the design and launch of new, high-margin drinks aimed at the youth market, such as Mississippi Steamer, Red Square and Caribbean Twist. Already exporting to over twenty countries world-wide, he plans to set up joint ventures to add China and the US to Halewood’s list.
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