Chief of the Week: Rowan Gormley, new ceo of Majestic Wines

Today we raise a glass to Rowan Gormley one of the key players behind the £70 million acquisition of Naked Wines by Majestic and the new chief executive of the larger Majestic Wines group.

The deal, which was announced last Friday, is big news for both companies and could help revitalise Majestic listless image and solve logistic issues for Naked Wines.

Gormley first set up Naked Wines in December 2008, after he resigned from his role as chief executive officer of Virgin Wines in June earlier that year. He set up the business with 15 previous members of the Virgin Wines team.

After that Gormley and his team never looked back.

Naked Wines since has seen substantial year on year growth, which is supported by its ever-growing number of ‘Angels’. Angles are essentially its customers, which pay a monthly subscription for wine, which they go on to receive at wholesale prices.

By pooling its entire Angels’ money, Naked Wines is able to provide financing upfront to its selected winemakers – of whom there are currently 145 around the world.

The trading model is at odds with the more traditional model of, well, companies just like Majestic.

Majestic, like many retailers in UK, has been struggling over the past 18 months. In September 2014, the group saw half-year profits slip 10.5% to £8.5 million and the Christmas trading period was equally as challenging.

Steve Lewis, the former chief executive, was asked to step down in February and there was speculation of potential candidates, but with the merger it was announced that Gormley would be its new leader.

The newly merged company maybe a case of two halves together making a much stronger whole.

Naked Wines was looking for a long-term financial investor to help inject further capital into the business to continue to expand as well as a logistic partner that could provide more delivery options to their growing base of angels.

Equally Majestic needed a strong ceo to help turn the company around and with Naked Wines offices in Australia and the US, global expansion is now much easier.

Gormley has a gift for innovation but not in the traditional sense of the word- he is not so much an inventor as he is an ideation guy. He doesn’t’ come up with new ideas within the same framework, but he drives innovation by changing the entire framework- he shifts the paradigm.

With Gormley at the helm of the new company and the angels at the back it, it appears the sky may not even be the limit.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Today I have finally come to the decision to cancel my monthly subscription and close my account with Naked Wines. I accept I'm not a big customer but I've been a consistent for a few years now and feel I've been let down by poor customer service throughout and today is the last time you'll lie to me. I've been offered free bottles on numerous occasions if I order a dozen wines from your list only to receive the dozen and no free bottle and more recently I was promised a voucher to buy a shirt and despite e-mails and more promises I've received nothing. I've always been happy with the quality of Naked Wines but that is no substitute for the poor service and the lies. Currently I only have £20.00 credit in my account but I want this credited to my bank account by the end of business today the 14/10/16. Enough is enough. The sad thing is that the service I get in Majestic wines is fantastic but I fear they will be dragged down by the naked wines attitude to service.
    Phil Jackson

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