Doing business in the EU

South Africa’s Distell growing in the UK

Fraser Thornton is the managing director of Distell’s European division.


Despite challenges for the UK drinks trade following the Brexit vote, South Africa’s Distell has made the British market a focus for future sales growth.



Distell has taken its distribution in-house in the UK, and put together a new team of brand managers based at a newly-upgraded space in Richmond, making access to Heathrow airport easy – this is an important element for this office, which also serves as Distell’s European hub. (Half the company’s export business stems from Europe).

But why the focus on the UK now? After all, this is a time when financial uncertainty following the Brexit vote is high, and per capita, alcoholic drinks consumption in the UK is falling, albeit slowly.

It’s also a period when drinks markets such as China and the US are regularly promoted as presenting the greatest possibilities for growth.

Thornton explains. “The group’s stated objective is to double the earnings for the group over the next five years and we won’t achieve that level of growth in South Africa where we already have a dominant position – so have to over-deliver on that level of growth internationally.

“So, in the bit of the world where we sit – which is Europe – we say to ourselves, ‘how can we play a part in that growth ambition?’ What markets can deliver double digit annual growth in revenue and our earnings?’

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Andre Beukes LLM

Andre Beukes LLM

André Beukes is an EU Management Consultant to international companies doing business in Europe. He provides clients with practical business support that makes a real difference doing business in the EU. “Put simply, I am here to help you meet your challenges. I believe in the importance of doing things correctly, meaning risks are reduced and problems are avoided.”

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