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Virgin Wines plans stock market float amid ecommerce boom

UK online retailer Virgin Wines has confirmed plans for a stock market flotation next month, in a move that follows strong growth in the market for online wine orders and home delivery.

Virgin Wines said today (16 February) it planned to float on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market.

The listing was reportedly expected to value the group at around £100m.

A listing on AIM exchange is expected from 2 March, said the UK-based wine retailer, without commenting on the potential value of the float.

The move is the latest sign of confidence in the market for online wine orders and home delivery, a part of the wine sector that has expanded more quickly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘We have enjoyed strong, consistent growth recently resulting in the group delivering more than one million cases of wine to consumers during 2020,’ said Jay Wright, Virgin Wines’ CEO.

‘Underpinned by the strength of our customer proposition as well as the benefit of many positive consumer trends, we have a clear strategy to continue this growth over the coming years.’

Recent moves elsewhere have also highlighted growing confidence in the longer-term prospects for ecommerce and wine.

Vivino, the popular wine app, recently raised $155m via an investor funding round led by Sweden-based investment firm Kinnevik.

The start-up, founded by current CEO Heini Zachariassen, said it wanted to bring more merchants and wineries into its marketplace.

It also plans to develop better artificial intelligence technology to offer more personalised recommendations its community of 50m wine enthusiasts.

‘Alcohol e-commerce sales worldwide have grown immensely, and it is estimated that by 2024 they will exceed $40 billion,’ said Vivino, which saw sales double in 2020.

Before that, Silicon Valley giant Uber announced a $1.1bn deal to buy Drizly, an on-demand delivery service for wines, beer and spirits operating in 1,400 US cities.

Online retailer Naked Wines, which works directly with winemakers and growers, last year reported sales up by nearly 80% to £157m for the 26 weeks ended 28 September, versus the same period of the previous year. It reported a half-year loss of £8.1m, however.

CEO Nick Devlin said in the group’s half-year trading statement in November 2020, ‘Ultimately the most significant impact of COVID-19 on Naked Wines is not found in these interim results, but in the way it has accelerated the growth of the online wine category and increased consumer willingness to trial a new and better way to buy wine.’

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