China’s leading wine and spirits importer and distributor Summergate, which was bought by Australia’s Woolworths Group in 2014 has been sold to Gravity Capital, a private equity firm in Asia, for an undisclosed amount, Woolworths Group has announced.
The official announcement came after speculations of the sale started to surface among wine trade last month, prompting an earlier report by a Chinese wine media to name China’s leading B2B drinks platform Wajiu.com as the buyer. The story was shortly retracted.
According to Woolworlths, the group has been in discussion with a third party over recent months and subsequently entered into a period of exclusive discussions. The buyer turned out to be Gravity Capital. Not much information can be found about the company but Woolworths says it “represents a group of private equity investors in Asia with extensive experience in wine and spirits sector.”
The sale including Summergate Fine Wines & Spirits and its retail business Pudao is expected to be finalised in March this year.
“The investment in Summergate reflects their positive outlook for the Greater China wine & spirits market and they expect to be able to bring about relevant sector knowledge and resources to support Summergate ongoing development and future growth,” says Chris Gramond, Business Development Director at Woolworths Group, on the sale.
“We believe that under the Buyer’s ownership, Summergate & Pudao are well positioned for long term success with an experienced team who are in the wine and beverage sector in China, allowing Summergate to unlock its full potential as one of Greater China’s leading drinks companies, able to pursue its business strategy with flexibility to invest and respond to changing consumer behaviours and industry conditions.”
Summergate was first founded in 1999 and became one of China’s leading wine and spirits importers. In 2014, it was sold to Woolworths for reportedly US$25 million. According to its website, it exclusively represent 60+ brands to clients across Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China.
A few of China’s leading wine importers have changed hands. ASC Fine Wines was sold to Japan’s Suntory in 2009 and EWM Wines is partly owned by Japanese private equity firm Cool Japan Fund Inc. (CJF).