Accolade’s Hardys brand is the biggest selling wine in UK retail

Accolade Wines, maker of brands including Hardys, Echo Falls and Mud House, has been taken over by a consortium led by Bain & Co.

The deal brings an end to five years of ownership by US-based investment group Carlyle.

Carlyle, which paid A$1bn to acquire Accolade in 2018, had been seeking to offload the wine maker after premiumisation trends and ongoing Chinese tariffs on Australian wine dragged on sales.

It had already been selling off assets, including Tasmanian brand Bay of Fires, to service Accolade’s debts.

The buying consortium, called Australian Wine Holdco, includes asset managers Intermediate Capital Group, Capital Four, Sona Asset Management and Samuel Terry Asset Management.

It had already been buying Accolade’s debt at a discount and said it hoped to complete the company’s recapitalisation by the middle of 2024.

“Like all Australian winemakers, we have been hit by a number of challenging macroeconomic and industry headwinds in recent years,” said Accolade Wines CEO Robert Foye.

“Our ability to respond to these challenges and grow has been hampered by an unsustainable balance sheet.”

A spokesperson for the consortium added: “Accolade Wines has a long, proud Australian history as a world class wine producer and we hope it will remain so for many decades to come. We hope this restructure will build a more secure long-term future for the business.”

Accolade is the second biggest winemaker in Australia, behind Treasury Wine Estates.

In UK retail, it owns the biggest wine brand in Hardys, as well as Jam Shed, Echo Falls and Mud House.

Combined, these four brands racked up more than £530m in sales in the last year, according to The Grocer’s Top Products Report 2023.