Majestic Wines acquires Naked Wines and names Rowan Gormley chief executive

Majestic Wines has bought Naked Wines for £70 million and named Rowan Gormley chief executive officer of the new combined group.

Rowan Gormley

Rowan Gormley

Rowan Gormley

Majestic will pay £50 million in cash on completion of the deal and an additional £20 million will be payable in Majestic shares if certain conditions are met.

Rowan Gormley said in a statement: “For some time now we have been on the search for a new investor.”

Naked Wines has had steady growth over the past several years with sales hitting £74 million last at the end of 2014, a 40% increase over 2013.

Despite the steady growth the company has had some challenges. Gormley said: “But this growth has brought its challenges – mainly around wine and service. The Naked Fine Wine Bond and Angel waiting list have helped immensely here, but I believe we can still do better.”

According to Gormley finding interested investors was not a challenge, but finding the right partner was. He said: “The challenge hasn’t been in getting investment, but rather the right investor.

”Naked Wines is a special business, and so we didn’t want just any investment, we needed investment that helps us grow without compromising our Nakedness.”

It also needed a new partner to support ongoing growth, but also to provide a solution for one of company’s greatest challenges- delivery.

The merger means that Naked Wines will now be able to source a greater selection of wines from areas that Majestic already has buyers in and to provide a Click & Collect service for Naked’s wines from Majestic’s 200 plus shops. But there will be no actual Naked wines on sale on Majestic shelves or vice versa.

Naked Wines started in 2008 and had previously been backed by WIV Wein International AG, a German based wine business, which also has a stake in Hallgarten Druitt.

Majestic had been on the lookout for a chief executive following the departure Steve Lewis in February.



Readers' comments (2)

  • What a smart move! It's win-win.

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  • Looks a much better deal for NW than for Majestic. £70 million for a company losing money where the original investor wants out is a coup for Mr Gormley. Everyone in wine should congratulate him. He did anyone genuinely innovative in wine, which is almost an oxymoron! He deserves his pay-off.

    But Majestic is in a difficult spot. They remind me of Tesco's. Under Mr Lewis (a Majestic 'lifer') they followed a strategy (if you can call it that) of just opening 3-5 new high street shops a year. It might have provided a modicum of top line growth but as customer habits evolved it was exposed as the non-strategy that is has been for years. I would expect new CEO Gromley to reverse course immediately (as Tesco has done) and start shutting shops. Most independent wine merchants cannot think beyond the shop floor and hence it is refreshing to see a Chairman actually accepting that things have changed. But let's not kid ourselves, Naked isn't going to save Majestic .... nothing is - in its current form.

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