Naked Wines delivered forecast-beating full-year sales yesterday as the pandemic drove a sea-change in the willingness of American consumers to buy their wine online.
Sales in the United States surpassed £150 million, making it Naked’s biggest market, as lockdowns and other restrictions persuaded American consumers to buy wine over the internet.
In the past wine has been seen in the US as a highly regulated product and Naked said that until the pandemic a lot of people did not realise that they could buy it online. America now represents about 45 per cent of group revenues. Sales growth for the group as a whole reached 68 per cent, implying second-half growth of 60 per cent. Analysts said that while this was below the 79 per cent delivered in the first half, a moderation from the early lockdown highs had been expected.
Nick Devlin, 36, chief executive, said: “Whilst in some ways 2021 is as difficult to predict as 2020, I believe we have seen an enduring shift of demand online across multiple categories.
“Ultimately, whilst Covid has driven the trial of many online models, the long-term winners will be the businesses that offer customers a genuinely differentiated offer. I firmly believe Naked will be one of those long-term winners.”
Naked, which operates in Britain, America and Australia, was founded in 2008 by Rowan Gormley, who reversed it into Majestic Wine in 2015 before unwinding the deal in 2019 via a sale of the Majestic retail business to Fortress Investment Group.
The online group funds independent winemakers via a network of 885,000 customers across its three markets known as “angels”. Naked has 235 winemakers on its books, producing more than 1,500 wines in 19 countries.
Devlin said that Naked would end a challenging year “not just as a bigger business, but a better one”.
Shares of Naked fell by 13p, or 1.6 per cent, to close at 792p.