Changes at Liberty Wines

Sogrape takes majority stake in Liberty Wines

Champagnes Piper-Heidsieck, Charles Heidsieck and Rare also invests in and joins the Board of Liberty Wines

Sogrape and Liberty Wines are pleased to announce that Sogrape is taking a majority stake in Liberty Wines. This is a significant move for Sogrape under the leadership of President Fernando da Cunha Guedes, recognising the strength of the strategic partnership since the Portuguese group’s initial investment in March 2017.

Both companies are also pleased to confirm that Champagnes Charles Heidsieck, Piper-Heidsieck and Rare is taking a minority stake in Liberty Wines. The investment follows the success of Charles Heidsieck Champagne in the UK and Ireland since joining the Liberty Wines portfolio seven years ago, and the recent addition of Piper-Heidsieck and Rare Champagnes.

There are strong synergies between Sogrape and Liberty Wines: both are independently-owned companies whose sharp focus on quality and consistent long-term approach have delivered proven business success. These synergies have underpinned the mutually beneficial and deepening relationship between the two businesses. Champagnes Piper-Heidsieck, Charles Heidsieck and Rare, which includes Biondi-Santi and Château La Verrerie, is also family owned and shares this focus, making them an ideal business partner.

Raquel Seabra, an executive Board member of Sogrape, and Damien Lafaurie, President and CEO of Champagnes Piper-Heidsieck, Charles Heidsieck and Rare, will join the Liberty Wines Board.  

David Gleave, co-founder of Liberty Wines, continues as Managing Director and remains a shareholder. Neville Abraham continues as Chairman. Andrew Knott, Finance Director, and Tom Platt, Sales Director, together with Non-Executive Directors Michael Hill Smith, Vicki Nobles and John Ratcliffe, remain on the Board. Gonçalo Sousa Machado, Export Director, is returning to Portugal later in the year.  Non-Executive Director Riquet Hess retires.

In long-planned moves, Luciann Flynn, Communications Director, and Gary Wyatt, Chief Operating Officer, have decided to step down from both the Board and their respective roles.

Fernando da Cunha Guedes, President, Sogrape said: “The UK is one of Sogrape’s priority markets and through Liberty Wines we are gaining significant visibility and representation for our wines, notably in the premium on-trade. We are delighted with their achievements over the past two years and are pleased to demonstrate our commitment by creating closer ties with David and the Liberty Wines team.”

Damien Lafaurie, President & CEO of Piper-Heidsieck, Charles Heidsieck and Rare Champagne, commented: “We are delighted to join Liberty Wines as a shareholder and to help it develop further. Having worked with Liberty Wines for seven years, it was natural for us to take part in its strategic alliance. We will support Liberty Wines’ talented, independent and ambitious team in further establishing the group’s leadership position in the UK, which is a strategic market for our Champagne houses.”

David Gleave, Managing Director, Liberty Wines said, “I would like to thank Liberty Wines’ longstanding shareholders, without whose support we would not have grown or developed as we have.  On behalf of the Board, I’d particularly like to thank Luciann and Gary for their dedication and leadership, which has been integral to our success so far. Luciann and I co-founded Liberty Wines 22 years ago and Gary has been with the company for some 14 years. Both have contributed significantly to the culture and professionalism of our organisation.”

“The attraction of Sogrape, Charles Heidsieck, Piper-Heidsieck and Rare was that the businesses are family owned and take a long-term view of the market.  We also share a belief in quality from vineyard to glass, something which is reflected in the strong performance of our three businesses. At Liberty Wines, we have had our best results ever in this past financial year. We feel the strategic reasons behind our partnership are compelling and position us well to continue to meet our customers’ needs in this fast-paced market.”