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Virgin Wines aims for faster growth away from Direct Wines

Published:  12 November, 2013

The new owners of Virgin Wines are planning for faster growth outside of the Direct Wines stable with a focus on face-to-face events and customer interaction.

The company was bought out by its management team, backed by private equity, for £14 million.

Jay Wright, the managing director of the newly-bought out Virgin Wines chain, told Harpers the Virgin management team had been talking to Direct Wines about the sale of the company for the past year, but discussions became more serious in the past nine months.

He said that when the strategic plan for 2013 was outlined for Virgin Wines, it was set out as if the company was already an independent business. "We've worked on that with our financial backers and so we are now ploughing ahead as we had planned to," he added. The management buyout was supported by two private equity firms, Mobeus Equity Partners and Connection Capital.

Wright said that strategically the sale worked well for both parties, as Direct Wines wants to focus on Laithwaite's in the UK and its overseas expansion.

"We believe there's a lot of opportunity to grow, and it's quicker if you are able to do that outside of the group. We will have the opportunity to do whatever we want to do when we want to do it," he said.

Jay Wright

"Interacting with our customers and getting them to feel as much a part of the business as possible  - that's a really important part of our strategy."

The company will now focus a lot more on face-to-face events - including its tastings around the country - and building its Fabulous business, which allows customers to host wine-tasting parties overseen by an advisor who supplies the wine and can talk about the range. 

It is also considering expansion into the gift business and building its corporate market share.

Wright expects the new initiatives to kick off within the next six months.

Jay Wright