|Headquarters||Norwich, United Kingdom|
|Key people||Jay Wright (UK)|
Virgin Wines is an online retailer based in the United Kingdom. Established in 2000 under Richard Branson’s Virgin Banner, it was bought by Direct Wines in 2005. In November 2013 Mobeus Equity Partners and Connection Capital provided a combined debt and equity package to support the £15.9 million management buy-out. The philosophy of the company “Life’s too short for boring wine” relates to the company working with smaller boutique winemakers to offer over 600 wines at any one time on the website. 90% of the Virgin range is exclusive to Virgin Wines customers.
Established under Richard Branson’s famous Virgin banner in 2000, Virgin Wines set out to change the UK’s wine retail industry in three ways: becoming the world’s biggest online wine retailer, making buying wine fun and uncomplicated and selling unique, exciting wines made by small producers. The company became a subsidiary of Direct Wines in 2005. However Virgin Wines kept the Virgin name and the Virgin brand values are at the heart of everything that Virgin Wines stand for. They continue to work closely with the Virgin Group.
Jay Wright, founder of Warehouse Wines, became Managing Director of Virgin Wines in June 2008. His arrival heralded a significant period of restructuring, which included merging the Warehouse Wines brand with that of Virgin Wines. The merged company combined the best parts from both businesses by capitalising upon Virgin’s presence in the online sector and Warehouse Wines’ mail order experience. During Jay’s time at Virgin Wines he has spearheaded many major business innovations which have placed Virgin Wines in a powerful position, with consistent profitability and steady, quality growth in a challenging business climate. Jay was named “Man of the Year” at The Drinks Business Awards 2013.
In July 2013, Virgin Wines won the award for innovator of the year at the International Wine Challenge Merchant of the Year Awards.
In November 2013, Mobeus Equity Partners and Connection Capital provided a combined debt and equity package to support the £15.9 million management buy-out of Virgin Wines from Direct Wines to make the company fully independent, owned by its management team. However the Virgin name was maintained and Virgin Wines will continue to work with the Virgin group.
Wines & Services
Virgin Wines work with talented, passionate winemakers to offer a range of around 600 wines at any one time, all of which are sourced as a result of long lasting, rewarding supply partnerships. Over 90% of our range is exclusive to Virgin Wines, sourced directly from producers and therefore unavailable from other providers. Customers are encouraged to offer comments and star ratings on the wines and over 350,000 ratings have been collected since 2000. Wines are listed, re-listed and de-listed on the back of these ratings, making the customer a focal point of the business.
Discovery Wine Club
The Discovery Wine Club features quarterly cases of red and white wines, plus a festive shipment. It includes new releases and customer favourites, all of which are hand-picked by Virgin Wine Buyer, Andrew Baker. Currently customers subscribe to the Discovery Wine Club, on either the Standard or First Class option.
Just Reds Wine Club
The justREDS Wine Club has been created especially for red wine lovers and features wines exclusively reviewed by Daily Mail Wine Writer Matthew Jukes, who is also one of the world’s leading wine authorities.
Virgin Wines WineBank gives customers the freedom to buy what they want, when they want, with the added reward of instant wine interest of £1 for every £5 they invest. WineBank was rebranded in 2012 to WineBank Plus.
In addition to wine clubs, Virgin Wines employ a team of over 30 Wine Advisors, which ensures that customers receive unrestricted access to a one to one, personalised wine service. Around 30,000 customers have regular contact with a member of the Wine Advisor team, who offer personalised wine recommendations and wine matching advice.
Virgin Wines main call centre and delivery tracking team are based in their Norwich office, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee is offered on all wines bought.
Virgin Wines hold Regular wine tastings all across the country, which allow customers to taste the wines, meet the team and interact with visiting winemakers. In 2013 Virgin are hosting 30 wine tastings around the country and expect over 10,000 customers to attend. Virgin Wines holds its main national tasting in London each year.
With over 30 tastings in total, Virgin Wines cover much of the UK.
Virtual Winemaker Project
The Virgin Wines Virtual Winemaker project sees customers come together through the power of the internet to influence every aspect of the production of a wine. This includes voting on the blend, whether the wine is oaked or not, the label design and the name.
Customers receive regular email updates on the progress of their wine, as well as a dedicated blog site to ensure they don’t miss anything. When the wine is ready, the Virtual Winemakers have first priority and get invited to a glitzy launch party in London to taste the wine.
The first Virtual Winemaker project was based in Italy, following the success of that project a second project was set up at the renowned Finca Manzanos winery in Rioja. Following the popularity of the project, a third instalment is currently underway with a record number of customers taking part in producing a wine with famous French producers Famille Perrin.
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