WIV Wein International AG has backed London-based Naked Wines for the third time to support its growth efforts.
Naked Wines acts as a kind of venture capitalist for its users, who can invest directly into independent winemakers. It is aiming to become the Kickstarter for wine, modelling the American crowdfunding platform which backs projects and ideas.
By backing the winemakers, customers (who are referred to as angels) receive exclusivity and wholesale pricing typically worth between 40 and 60 per cent under retail price.
The business was set up by Rowan Gormley, an entrepreneur who previously founded Virgin Money and Virgin Wines. With the company now shipping 10 million bottles of wine a year, it is hoping to expand operations in the US and Australia which began last year.
Gormley comments, ‘We’re in business to make rich people’s wine affordable to normal people.
‘WIV’s latest investment will really help us step up the quality of our wines in a way that our customers can taste.’
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Direct wine selling company WIV has previously provided £9 million of growth capital to Naked Wines through two funding rounds.
The company’s joint managing director, Andreas Pieroth, says, ‘We’ve been in the wine business for 60 years, in 24 countries around the world, and Naked Wines’ business model is the biggest revolution we have seen.’
Now five years-old, Naked Wines has 150,000 ‘angels’ and has invested £25 million in 130 winemakers across four continents. Its turnover for 2012, £40 million, led to an operating profit of £1 million – which was given to founding staff members.
Gormley adds, ‘Winemakers don’t get the recognition or the rewards they deserve, and we want to see that change.
‘In the restaurant industry, individual chefs have become much more famous than the restaurant. We’re helping to do the same thing for the wine business.’