Virgin Wines reports record Christmas sales

25 January, 2018

Virgin Wines enjoyed its strongest ever Christmas trading period as sales grew 15% to £8.7 million in the four weeks to December 22, 2017.

The online retailer shipped more than 150,000 cases during the month, ensuring a robust revenue performance that was considerably ahead of the previous Christmas.

It delivered a profit of £828,000 and reported surging sales in a range of different categories.

“It is a huge accolade to every member of the Virgin Wines team, who work so hard all year round, to be able to grow sales at 15% year-on-year at a time of great volatility and cost pressure in the UK wine market,” said chief executive Jay Wright.

After short harvests in many traditional wine producing nations led to increased price pressure, the buying team expanded its range from Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. Sales from this region grew 200% during the four weeks.

It has championed different formats and said magnums and half-bottles are selling at “unprecedented levels”.

The retailer recruited 22,000 new customers during the Christmas period and more than half joined its Wine Bank scheme. Members deposit a certain amount each month and earn £1 interest for every £5 they bank, before buying wines from the retailer’s extensive range, while they also benefit from free next-day delivery.

It employs a 40-strong wine advisor team, which sold more than £1.8 million worth of wine to its personal client base in the build-up to Christmas.

The corporate arm sold almost £1 million worth of wine, and the gift business – Sendagift.co.uk – grew sales by 88% year-on-year to £850,000. It also sold more than 13,000 advent calendars before December, and had success with Christmas crackers filled with quarter bottles of wine, Prosecco and gin and tonic.

Port sales grew 50% compared to the previous Christmas after it launched an own-label offering. It saw rosé grow 40% and believes it is no longer merely a seasonal category.

Wright said: “It is extremely pleasing to once again break all our previous records for sales over the 2017 Christmas period. The launch of our new website has given a significant lift in conversion rates for both new and existing customers whilst the continued focus on product innovation, category expansion and new marketing initiatives has seen both the core business and the gift business grow at an unprecedented rate.”

Virgin Wines was set up under Richard Branson’s Virgin banner in 2000 and Wright took charge in 2008, by which time it had been purchased by Laithwaite’s parent company Direct Wines. Wright and chief financial officer Graeme Weir led a management buyout in 2013 and have been steadily growing sales of the independently operated business ever since.




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