Virgin Wines, the major UK wine retailer, has today announced that Mobeus Equity Partners and Connection Capital have provided a combined debt and equity package to support the £15.9 million management buy-out of the business from Direct Wines Limited. The management team will be led by CEO Jay Wright, CFO Graeme Weir and Marketing Director Paul Adams.
Virgin Wines was founded in 2000 and acquired by Direct Wines in 2005. Jay Wright had previously built a successful mail order wine business, Warehouse Wines, which was acquired by Direct Wines in 2002. Jay, Graeme and Paul took over Virgin Wines in 2008 and merged it with Warehouse Wines in 2009. The management team has successfully grown the combined business to a turnover in excess of £35 million.
The company sells over 600,000 cases of its niche range of exclusive boutique-quality wines to 150,000 customers around the UK. In keeping with its philosophy – ‘Life’s too Short for Boring Wine,’ over 90% of its wines are exclusive to Virgin Wines, sourced directly from producers and therefore unavailable from other providers.
Innovative customer loyalty schemes include a WineBank and specialist wine plans – Discovery Club and JustREDS. More recently, the business launched Virgin Wines Fabulous, its new at-home wine tasting evenings for up to 15 guests.
Jay Wright, CEO, Virgin Wines commented: “This is great news for Virgin Wines. We now have the opportunity to grow the business independently, backed by two hugely supportive investors in Mobeus and Connection Capital. It is a dream come true to have completed the management buy-out of a business that I have such a passion for and I look forward to working with our new partners to deliver continued growth and genuine innovation.“
Jonathan Gregory, Partner and Chief Investment Officer of Mobeus commented: “We are delighted to back an excellent team and to be involved with the iconic Virgin brand. We believe that the online wine market will continue to grow strongly and Virgin Wines will continue to mature as an independent business.”
Julian Carr, Partner at Connection Capital commented: “Virgin Wines is innovative in its approach to market which is testimony to a cracking management team who have turned the business around over the last five years and we look forward to working with Jay and the team to help the business achieve its growth plans.”
“The majority of our clients enjoy a quality glass of wine as well as a quality investment. The unusual opportunity to combine both in the MBO of Virgin Wines saw it significantly oversubscribed and I am sure that many of our clients will become active wine customers!”