John's private family funeral takes place on Wednesday 26 October 2011. A memorial service will be held on a date to be confirmed.
John's family have asked for family flowers only at the funeral. John's wishes were that donations be made to the British Heart Foundation or The Benevolent. Donations to the British Heart Foundation can be made on this page. Donations to The Benevolent can be made at www.justgiving.com/JohnHalewood).
JOHN HALEWOOD AND HALEWOOD INTERNATIONAL - A BRIEF HISTORY AND OVERVIEW
John was born on the Wirral in Wallasey to an Irish mother Eileen, and a father who was a Naval Engineer, both of whom helped John when he eventually set up his business.
Halewood International was founded in 1978 (originally called Halewood Vintners) by John Halewood and his mother Eileen. John was originally a one-man band, with support from his parents and family. Eileen remained a Director until her death in 2010.
Although the business has grown organically since its inception, strategic purchases have also been a feature of its development. The assets of John Buccleugh, who were based in Kirkby, and Lamb & Watt, a Warrington based drinks business, were acquired. Hall & Bramley of Aintree, where John began his working life in the Liverpool drinks trade, was also purchased.
In the 1980s Halewood International purchased what is the oldest wine merchants in the United Kingdom, Chalié Richards & Company, which was founded in St. James’s in London in the year 1700 and over the years received a number of Royal Warrants. Today it is the ‘fine wine’ arm of the Halewood group, selling wine, largely through agency arrangements, from around the world.
The first part of the present site in Knowsley was purchased in 1993 and in due course the business wholly relocated from Roberttown, Yorkshire.
In terms of product, the move to Liverpool saw the development of what became Halewood’s largest brand, Lambrini. Lambrini is today one of the largest brands in the take-home drinks market. At this time Red Square Vodka was also developed into a leading Vodka brand along with its ready to drink (RTD) flavoured counterparts. John was also able to build significant volume of business with Romanian wines into the U.K., and indeed at one time sales exceeded ¾ million 9 litre cases.
With the fall of communism in 1989, Halewood International, along with Pernod Ricard and a German wine importer, formed the first joint venture between western and Romanian companies. Since then Halewood International has itself purchased land and developed vineyards in all key growing areas, as well as developing some of the wineries into tourist attractions.
The South African business, when purchased, was not in good health but in the last few years its fortunes have very much been turned round via strategic investment and a professional and dedicated management team.
Although not part of the Halewood International Group, John Halewood owns a drink packaging business in Chorley – H&A Prestige Packaging – and has a shareholding in something completely unconnected with the drinks industry, HiFX which is based in Windsor. Even earlier this year, John’s appetite for investment was clear from his acquisition of Willow Water Limited in the Lake District.
Despite all the international connections (which also include a joint venture in China), Halewood International’s main business is still predominantly in the United Kingdom, supplying all the major retailers and wholesalers as well as specialist wine and spirit and convenience stores. Before his death, John intended to place yet further emphasis on developing international business by building strategic partnerships with distribution companies based in target export territories.
With Halewood International interests globally, the group now employs around 1,500 people, of which around 350 are based in Liverpool. Halewood International’s South Africa and Romania businesses also employ a significant number of people.
Bringing the portfolio up to date, Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer, launched in February 2009, has been the most successful product launch that the business has ever enjoyed. In the last two years, Crabbie’s has benefited from significant advertising investment – from quirky television and radio advertising to posters and the purchase of a London Routemaster bus.
The original Crabbie’s Ginger Wine has been in the company portfolio for some time. John Crabbie & Company was in fact founded in 1801 in Leith in Scotland, and to maintain the connection between Crabbie’s and the local community the Crabbie’s brand is the main club and shirt sponsor of Hibernian Football Club.
When not planning and discussing new ideas, which includes looking at interesting label designs, unique bottle shapes and the next flavour to catch the consumer’s attention and imagination, John Halewood’s other passion was horse racing, culminating in his horse ‘Amberleigh House’ trained by Ginger McCain, (who had successfully trained ‘Red Rum’) winning the 2004 Aintree Grand National. At his death, John’s business had 10 steeplechasers in training.
www.halewood.com.ro (Halewood Romania)