Ambitions Bare all
July 23, 2012, 7:41 am
A wine company set up only four years ago to invest in small-scale vineyards is expanding globally.
Naked Wines, the UK’s fastest-growing online retailer, has announced it is setting up business in Australia and America.
The Norwich-based company’s business is persuading investors to put money into small, independent winegrowers in the same way as ‘angels’ bankroll plays and shows in the hope that they will become successful and turn into big money-spinners.
Started in in 2008 by South African entrepreneur Rowan Gormley, the company has more than 100,000 investors in the UK who together put £2 million into the fund each month.
In return for committing to a small sum each month the investors become entitled to buying the wine at a discounted price. They also have a say in which companies to invest in and which companies should appear on the website. They can also speak to the winegrowers directly and get the chance to go on overseas trips to see the vineyards they invest in.
Last year Naked Wines had a turnover of £20 million and now boasts a staff of 12.
It is now turning its attention to Australia and the US where it is looking to invest £5.5 million in small growers.
As part of its first international expansion, Naked Wines aims to help fund up to 20 independent winemakers looking to expand in Australia.
Australian winemakers who have teamed up with Naked Wines include Sam Plunkett from the Strathbogie Ranges of Victoria, who has set up his own label ‘The Butterfly Effect’; Rebecca and Adrian Santolin from Yarra Valley who developed ‘Boy Meets Girl’ and Brian Fletcher from Margaret River, who now has his own label.
Naked Wines said in a statement: “By investing directly in the winemaker, Naked Wines delivers exclusive wines at preferential prices to their customers and counters the creative stifling that the extreme consolidation at the retail end of the market has generated.”
Luke Jecks, managing director of Naked Wines Australia, said he was excited to be bringing the brand to Australia and helping consumers connect with winemakers.
“Having witnessed the growth and dominance of the big supermarket chains, their increase in private label brands and the boom in discount distressed stock suppliers, I knew winemakers were getting fewer opportunities and customers were getting fewer choices. The Australian wine industry needed a rapid change,” he said.
“I turned to my good friend and entrepreneur, Rowan Gormley, who was already successfully leading the way with change and success in the UK and fell in love with the Naked Wines model.”