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Rosé, port and boozy gifts drive Virgin Wines’ 15% festive growth

Published:  02 February, 2018

British drinkers knocked back significantly more rosé, port and Eastern European wine last Christmas as the nation’s drinking habits continue to change.

That’s according to figures released by online retailer Virgin Wines, which saw a 15% year-on-year sales spike in the four weeks to 22 December last year.

Sales of rosé, a drink usually associated with the summer, were up 40%, while fortified wine grew 50%, driven chiefly by Virgin Wine’s new exclusive label port, the company said.

With supplies of western European wines squeezed by last year’s poor harvest, sales of Hungarian, Bulgarian and Romanian wines more than tripled after the company expanded its range of Eastern European wines.

Gifting business contributed £1.6m to revenues in the eight weeks before Christmas. The business sold more than 13,000 wine advent calendars and said Christmas crackers filled with bottles of wine, prosecco and gin & tonic proved popular.

The company shifted 150,000 cases of wine and achieved sales of £8.7m, with profit hitting £828k during the period. Virgin Wines CEO Jay Wright said the performance “smashed targets across the board.”

“The launch of our new website has given a significant lift in conversion rates for both new and existing customers whilst the continued focus on product innovation, category expansion and new marketing initiatives has seen both the core business and the gift business grow at an unprecedented rate,” he said.

“It is a huge accolade to every member of the Virgin Wines team who work so hard all year round to be able to grow sales at 15% year on year at a time of great volatility and cost pressure in the UK wine market.”

He added that the company’s expansion into larger formats such as magnums and 187.5ml bottles had delivered “unprecedented” sales. Meanwhile the expansion of Virgin Wines’ premium range resulted in 45% boost to the company’s fine wine sales.