Case Studies

McWilliam’s Wines

How GKH helped McWilliam's Wines to go granular - and international
GKH customised Adaptive Insights to allow for greater product planning
Product and brand planning can now allow for better planning accuracy and less wastage write-offs

About McWilliam’s Wines

The first McWilliam to land on Australian soil was Samuel McWilliam, who arrived from Ireland in 1857. Twenty years later, he planted the first family vines on the outskirts of Corowa; a small town on the border of New South Wales and Victoria.

Now, over 140 years and six consecutive generations of winemakers later; the McWilliam family carry on the winemaking tradition. You can find their vineyards strewn throughout New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, and they now produce over 150 million dollars’ worth of award-winning wines each year. 

Previous Product and Process Pitfalls

As with many other agri-businesses, the Australian wine industry relies heavily on overseas export markets. So when the Australian dollar peaked back in 2011, it created a lot of trouble for local wine producers.

According to Mark Wilson, CFO and Company Secretary at McWilliam’s Wines, the company had to make a lot of changes. “We had to restructure and divest part of the business, to survive.”

As with many companies who are reliant on seasonal harvests, McWilliam’s Wines had traditionally planned for the short-to-medium term. However, with some difficult years forecast on the horizon, the management team at McWilliam’s Wines knew that it needed more robust sales, supply and financial planning. So they crafted a three-year financial and operational plan that would see them through the storm.

Mr Wilson knew that the success of their three-year plan relied on having access to the right data. “Part of [the three-year plan] involved overseas expansion, divestment of brands and creation of new bands…  as a three-year plan, it was important to have more regular and robust reporting around the long term, with continual updating.”

Having used Adaptive Insights in a previous company, Mr Wilson knew exactly what to do next.

The Search for Something Streamlined

Prior to working with GKH to implement Adaptive Insights, McWilliam’s Wines relied heavily on Excel. As Mr Wilson remembers “It was the classic scenario: everything in spreadsheets– which is not efficient.”

Wilson and his team did investigate other software options, but Mr Wilson said that none of them were quite right for McWilliam’s Wines. “They were either too uneconomical or over-the-top, or they weren’t cloud based.”

With overseas expansion playing a large role in their three-year plan, Wilson said that implementing a cloud-based platform was essential, as it allowed their team access from anywhere in the world.

When it came time to choose an implementation partner, Mr Wilson saw GKH present at a CFO conference in Sydney, and he knew that they were the right team to bring on board. “GKH had the people, they had the capability, and they took a lot more of a hands-on role in building and customising [Adaptive Insights] for us.”

As McWilliam’s Wines’ three-year plan relied heavily on being able to rapidly produce unique reports on their various brands, products and revenue streams; they required some very unique customisation from the GKH Build Team in order to get the most out of Adaptive Insights.

Mr Wilson explained the value of the Build Team’s input. “They provided training and on-going support when required. We had access to two people at GKH who could come in and give us that support when available. They’re still available to us – which is very useful and very valuable.”

Regarding the ease of the implementation process GKH were very pragmatic and very hands on. Their commercial understanding was to a very high standard, which made the job much easier.

Mark Wilson, CFO and Company Secretary, McWilliam’s Wines

Leveraging Performance

Since making the switch to Adaptive Insights, McWilliam’s Wines are now able to monitor every product and revenue stream live, as changes happen; which lets them act fast and produce timely business intelligence.

From an Office of Finance perspective, Mr Wilson and his team now have the numbers they needed.  “Now we’ve got that matrix, granular level [of data], where we can see right down to the SKU; by customer, by territory, by department… and customise the reporting to produce whatever information management needs.” He adds that “the benefit to the business has helped to enhance the finance value-add.”

The future looks bright for McWilliam’s Wines. As Mr Wilson noted “With the Australian Dollar now coming back down to around 75 cents, and with the Chinese and Asian economies growing; demand is up… we’re starting to see international growth and more demand for wine internationally.”

So with the market shifting in the right direction, and the right finance systems now in place to help McWilliam’s Wines make the very most of this shift; it’s safe to say that the robust planning is paying off.