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Winemaker calls for more govt support

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AAP

2013-02-28

Winemaker Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) has urged the federal and state governments to provide more support for the Australian wine sector as it battles the high value of the Australian dollar.

TWE chief executive David Dearie said on Thursday that the continued strength of the Australian dollar was making it hard to compete at more commercial and popular price points against wines from other countries.

Furthermore, the impact of the high Australian dollar had been exacerbated by an ongoing lack of investment in rebranding Australia's wine reputation both domestically and internationally.

Mr Dearie acknowledged Wine Australia for its recent effort in securing funding through a partnership with Tourism Australia to start rebuilding `brand Australia'.

"We need others, including federal and state governments, to do more," Mr Dearie said.

"I urge politicians of all political persuasions to consider additional funding to support those serious wine companies like TWE who do so much to showcase Australian wines internationally, to drive regional tourism and provide much-needed regional and rural employment."

TWE's brands include Penfolds, Wolf Blass, Rosemount, Lindeman's and Beringer.

Treasury Wine on Thursday booked a net profit for the six months ended December 31 of $52.3 million, up 30.8 per cent from $40.0 million.

The result was skewed by one-off items in the first half of the current financial year and the prior financial year.

Excluding one-off items and an accounting adjustment for agricultural assets, TWE's first-half net profit fell 23.2 per cent to $45.0 million, from $58.6 million.

TWE's total volume of wine sold fell 2.5 per cent to 16.5 million cases, mainly driven by some discontinued sales in the United Kingdom.

Net sales revenue fell 3.3 per cent to $816.9 million.

The cost of sales rose 3.8 per cent to $606.3 million, reflecting the impact of the weather-affected 2011 vintages in Australia and California.

Mr Dearie said the first half had been challenging, given that costs had risen and TWE had had five per cent less volume of luxury and "masstige" (mass prestige) wines available to allocate to customers and consumers.

But in the second half of the current financial year, there would be 15 per cent more luxury and masstige wines available for sale.

Mr Dearie said the first-half result was also affected by the tough retail environment and fragile consumer confidence.

Shares in TWE were 27 cents higher at $5.17 at 1157 AEDT on Thursday.