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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Stuart Peskett

Wine merchant Berry Brothers & Rudd has bought Morris & Verdin in a bid to extend its interest in the wholesale market. The two companies, which were in the process of signing the deal as Harpers went to press, will run in parallel for the next 12 months, before Morris & Verdin integrates with Fields Wine Merchants, the wholesale subsidiary that Berry Bros acquired in 1997. Alun Griffiths, Berry Bros's wine director, said: We acquired Fields Wine Merchants in 1997 - we hadn't done any wholesaling before then - and it's been a very successful acquisition. We thought that this has been a successful part of our empire, so let's try and expand upon it. We feel we can integrate Morris & Verdin very successfully. Between us, we think we can do very well and that it's mutually beneficial. The retention of key Morris & Verdin staff, in particular [MD] Jasper Morris himself and sales director Robert Wheatcroft, will be of immense importance in maintaining continuity with both customers and suppliers. Moreover, the introduction of some of the Morris & Verdin portfolio into Berrys' retail list will enable our private customers to have access to an even wider range of fine wines.' Griffiths, who would not reveal the cost of the takeover, said he could not rule out redundancies in the future, adding that there would definitely not be any in the short term'. A spokesman for Morris & Verdin, who said that the opportunities offered by the move were compelling', added: We would not have considered an offer from any other company. Both companies share the same philosophy of the absolute pursuit of quality backed by effective service. All our valued and valuable customers will continue to have preferential access to the Morris & Verdin portfolio of wines and will gain access to a wider range of products from the Berry Bros group. Jasper Morris will continue to be fully involved, concentrating on maintaining relations with current suppliers and developing new agencies where there is demand.'