After years of hard work, Malcolm Green is eager to take his wine brand to the next level by exporting to the rest of Africa and beyond.
Together with his son Ricardo, Green founded House of La RicMal, which is located outside Stellenbosch in the Western Cape. The view from the front door is gently beautiful, with rolling farmland as far as the eye can see.
“This is a family-owned business and is 100% BEE,” Green says proudly. “We have done everything ourselves, from the concept to brand building to marketing and selling. We have a turnkey operation, doing logistics, bottling, loading and distributing as well.”
It helps that Green, who hails from KwaZulu-Natal, spent many years supplying bottles to winemakers, an experience that has sharpened his grasp of logistics and helped him to nurture valuable relationships in the wine industry.
Despite a tight marketing budget, Green says the strategy is both local and international.
Locally, House of La RicMal wines are sold through major retailers including Spar Tops, Checkers Shoprite and Pick n Pay. National distribution is vast and continually improving. Internationally, the focus is particularly on other African markets, as well as the Far East.
Green says the wine brand can already be found in Malawi and Angola. “Soon we will be in Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Botswana. In 2010 we went into Hong Kong, China and Kazakhstan.
“We have been working on the international market extensively through attending Department of Trade and Industry-sponsored trade missions. Through this, we have sent wine to Japan, Brazil and the US,” Green says.
Fortunately, there are plenty of importers, which means there is plenty of opportunity for new deals for the House of La RicMal.
“We can produce about 200,000 litres per annum, but at the moment we are just doing 20,000 to 30,000 litres a year. Sourcing and bottling the wine is not the challenge – there is a lot of good wine in South Africa,” Green says.
A boost from MCEP
House of La RicMal is a recipient of an MCEP grant, which was used on machinery for the production line to boost productivity, thereby creating more permanent jobs. The remainder of the funds was used to buy commercial vehicles for delivery and forklifts.
Green believes small businesses play a crucial role in the country’s economy.
“To speed up economic development in South Africa, we need to speed up access to funding,” he says. “This is crucial. Small businesses can’t wait for funding to be unlocked – they need to get orders out immediately or they will die. This is the biggest challenge.”
And this is why the MCEP is so important. “We turned to the MCEP because funding by the normal route of a bank is expensive, and banks are reluctant to loan to small business. They require massive security, and repayments can kill a small business.”
A focus on growth
La RicMal has 10 employees, three of whom are permanent sales people. It has a firm eye on growth, and will expand employment along with this.
“We’re part of a bigger picture. The wine industry has developed good ethics, and provides jobs and quality wine. We are delivering on our promises.”
On the whole, Green is optimistic about the future of his business and country. “I see a great future for South Africa and, personally, I think I am in the right industry.”
A toast to that sentiment.