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Virgin Wines toasts AIM of £100m public listing

Written by on 28/01/2021

One of the UK’s biggest direct-to-consumer wine retailers is preparing to float on the London stock market after seeing a coronavirus-fuelled surge in sales.

Sky News has learnt that Virgin Wines, which has approximately 150,000 customer subscribers, is working with advisers on an AIM listing that could take place as early as the first quarter of this year.

City sources said on Thursday that the flotation could value Virgin Wines at somewhere in the region of £100m.

Liberum, the investment bank, is working on the deal.

The company . Pic: Virgin Wines
Image: Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is no longer a shareholder in the company. Pic: Virgin Wines

The plan to take the 21 year-old company public exemplifies the boom experienced by many home delivery businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.

Surging sales to locked-down British consumers are spurring companies such as Deliveroo and Moonpig, the online greeting cards retailer, to go public, while the online florist Bloom & Wild has just raised funds at a stellar valuation.

Virgin Wines’ prospective float represents a change of tack for the company, which has also been working with other advisers from Lincoln International on a review of strategic options.

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It is now focused on an IPO rather than a private sale, according to insiders.

The company licenses the Virgin brand from Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin empire, and last changed hands seven years ago when Mobeus Equity Partners and Connection Capital provided debt and equity funding for a £16m management buyout.

It was previously owned by Direct Wines, having been established in 2000.

Virgin Wines’ products are available to customers through both online pay-as-you-go and subscription models.

The business has expanded in recent years through the launch of craft beers and spirit collections, corporate and consumer gifting items.

More than 90% of the wines sold by Virgin Wines by volume are exclusive to the company, with more than 700 wines on offer.

Unlike many other Virgin-branded companies, Sir Richard’s group is not a shareholder in the wine business.

In its most recent annual accounts, for the year to June 28, 2019, Virgin Wines reported a pre-tax profit of £1.7m.

It said it had increased stockholding levels in case of delays to imports triggered by a possible no-deal Brexit.

According to one source close to the company, Virgin Wines delivered more than 1m cases of wine to its customers in 2020.

The current management team, led by Jay Wright, chief executive, and finance chief Graham Weir, are expected to steer it through an AIM float.

Virgin Wines and Liberum both declined to comment.

 Sky News

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