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Virgin Wines in £14m management buyout

Published:  12 November, 2013

Direct Wines has sold its Virgin Wines business to the current management team, backed by private equity, for £14million, in order to focus on its core Laithwaite's wine business and overseas growth.

Current managing director of Virgin Wines Jay Wright, financial director Graeme Weir and marketing director Paul Adams, backed by Mobeus Equity Partners and Connection Capital, completed the deal for £14 million.

Simon McMurtrie, group chief executive of Direct Wines, said: "The board of the Direct Wines group and our shareholders, the Laithwaite family, want us to accelerate our growth in the US, Australia and in our core Laithwaite's Wine business in the UK and that is where we are now focusing our investment.

"Since Jay Wright took charge of Virgin Wines in 2008, he and his team have done a tremendous job of growing the business in the UK and we wish them well as they embark on the next chapter of their Virgin journey.

"We continue to own Virgin Wines in the US and Australia where they play a key role in the development of our businesses in those two markets."

Wright said: "The Laithwaite family and the Direct Wines management have consistently provided great support to my team and we are grateful to be given this new opportunity of developing the business further independently.

"The business will continue to be managed from Norwich and Preston, where I am lucky to have strong and dedicated teams."

In the year to June 2013, Virgin Wines had sales of £35 million.

Direct Wines was founded by Tony Laithwaite in 1969 and remains a family-owned wine merchant. With annual sales of £350 million, it comprises several wine businesses including: Laithwaite's Wine, Avery's, Virgin Wines (in the US and Australia), WSJ wine from the Wall Street Journal (US) and the Sunday Times Wine Club (UK). The group has. 1000 employees in the US, UK, Australia, Continental Europe and India.