SOUTH AFRICA – Distell Group Limited has unveiled its expansion strategy on the continent with plans to increase investments in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria across its wine, spirits and ready-to-drink categories.

According to report by Business Day, Richard Rushton, chief executive at Distell revealed that the group is constantly reviewing opportunities for investments in new African markets.

“Ethiopia is a big market that, along with Zimbabwe and Nigeria, is on our radar screen. But East Africa is a central part of our growth plan,” Richard said.

The liquor group has been in the race to build its presence in the continent markedly by capacity expansion and acquisitions.

Early this year, Distell launched the Libertas Vineyards and Estates as a new stand-alone premium wine company with ownership of all its premium brands.

The new wine company will operate as an independent entity – compared to the previously used approach where premium wines were managed as a division within the global company’s multi-category portfolio.

Other recent initiatives have included securing a new ready-to-drink brands partner in Ghana and starting construction of production facilities in Zambia.

The move is backed by the improved performance of its business which recorded double-digit growth in Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia in the interim period ending 31st December 2018.

Additionally, if its other African markets such as Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland were excluded, Distell’s interim volume growth in Africa was still more than 16% with revenue increasing 43%.

On a closer look at its African performance, Distell’s cider and ready-to-drink brands saw a sprightly 15% revenue hike in African markets.

Distell’s spirits sales on the continent soared 38.5% with wine revenues rising about 15% with Rushton emphasising that Distell would continue investing in efforts to bulk up its African platforms.

The stout African performance contrasted a mixed performance by Distell in international markets where volumes crimped 6.5% and revenue edged up about 4%.

The maker of best-selling brands like Savanna, Hunters, Klipdrift, Nederburg, 4th Street, Cruz, Bernini and Amarula reported growth in its headline earnings by 12.2% to US$91.36 million during its six months to 31st December 2018 period.