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Virgin Wines sale: UK market still key, says Direct Wines chief

Published:  12 November, 2013

Direct Wines boss Simon McMurtrie says the UK is still of major importance for the firm's business following the sale of Virgin Wines.

The global wine player, which earlier announced the sale of Virgin Wines in a management led buyout for £14 million, is planning a renewed focus on the UK.

Group chief executive,McMurtrie, said the sale is not related to a 2.4% drop in UK sales to June 2012, but rather was aimed at building its core Laithwaite's business in the UK and driving expansion in the USA and Australia.

He reiterated the importance of the UK for Direct Wines and said it would now focus its "energy and investment on Laithwaite's Wine and our UK business partners" despite the difficult marketplace.

Simon McMurtrie

"The UK market is tough for all players including supermarkets, but both Laithwaite's Wine and Virgin Wines are strong and profitable players."

Direct Wines is retaining the Virgin Wines brand overseas and McMurtrie foresees a long term partnership with the brand.

Direct Wines is a family-owned wine merchant with annual sales of around £350 million. It has 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 employs 1000 people in the US, UK, Australia, Continental Europe and India.