The founder of premium spirits importer and distributor Vanguard Luxury Brands, James France, has decided to leave the company.
France founded Vanguard Luxury Brands in 2008. In 2019, Lion acquired a minority share in the company.
At the time, then Lion Managing Director James Brindley (above, left, with France and Rodney O’Connell) said it was a fortunate outcome for Lion as it entered the growing premium spirits category.
“James France is widely recognised and respected within the premium spirits industry here and around the world,” he said.
“James and his team at Vanguard have been working closely with influential bartenders, hospitality operators and retailers for over a decade. Vanguard is a fabulous business and we at Lion will work hard to ensure we support Vanguard in continued service and engagement with our customers.”
France said: “After months of deep reflection and as I turn 60, I have come to the decision that it’s the right time for me to leave Vanguard.
“I have worked closely with the Vanguard and Lion teams to ensure a smooth transition. With this now complete, I am so happy to see that Vanguard is now standing strongly on its own two feet and ready to enter the next phase of its growth.
“Everyone at Lion has been incredibly supportive at every turn and I will always be grateful for this.”
Vanguard General Manager Danny Connolly said: “James is fully supportive of the future direction of Vanguard and is confident that the business has a bright future. I know James will be a Vanguard advocate for life and look forward to him remaining a member of the extended Vanguard family. We all thank James for creating this wonderful company and for the fantastic contribution he has made to the Australian spirits industry.”
As for next steps, France said he would be taking a few months off “just to reset”.
“I’d like to stay in the industry in some capacity because I don’t want to walk away from over 30 years of friendships, experience and fun,” he said.
“I’ll look at all options maybe even starting up that dog-friendly bar called Sit & Stay.”
France’s last official day at Vanguard will be 11 May 2023.