Virgin launches gifting business

Virgin Wines is to launch a gift business that it hopes will corner the market for wine presents.

Chief executive Jay Wright told OLN: “When people want to send a bunch of flowers they think of Interflora, but no one owns the market in wine and Champagne.

“Lots of people do it, but no one is really owning that part of the market. It is a huge opportunity.”

Virgin will launch its gift business in October with a wider range than is currently available, then grow it as the business upgrades its IT systems.

The move is one of a number of changes in the wake of the management-led buyout that saw Wright take a 35% stake in the business with finance director Graeme Weir and marketing director Paul Adams. The rest of the company was bought by private equity firms Mobeus and Connection Capital.

Wright said he would be “exceptionally disappointed” if the business did not reach £50 million turnover in the next five years.

Virgin has also launched a corporate business targeting employee and customer incentive schemes, and has boosted the number of staff looking at that area from one to four.

It is also broadening its range at both ends of the pricing spectrum at the same time as keeping a focus on its core £8-£12 price bracket.

Wright believes there is more potential to find good quality wines to retail at £4.99 at the lower end, while at the top end he is willing to go to £200-£300 a bottle, and is mainly looking for premium offers from the New World.

Virgin celebrated its best month ever in July, with overall sales up 12% and web sales – a particular focus for the retailer since the management buyout – up 22%.

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