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Virgin hails sparkling success

The UK thirst for Champagne and Prosecco helped online retailer Virgin Wines to achieve its best Christmas ever, with like-for-like December sales up 20%.

Virgin WinesReporting sales of more than £10 million during December, the company signed up over 1,000 new customers per day over the course of the month and sold more than 120,000 cases of wine.

Of this, Prosecco accounted for more than 38,000 bottles, helping to boost Virgin’s year-on-year sparkling wine sales by 170%. There was also a strong performance from Champagne, which enjoyed a 60% increase in sales during the same period.

The news echoes similarly upbeat reports about the impressive ongoing growth of the Prosecco category, both in the UK where the Co-operative was selling two bottles per second in the week before Christmas, and globally, as sales of the Italian sparkling wine overtook Champagne for the first time last year.

Virgin also pointed to a number of other strong categories, including Port, whose sales saw a 158% year-on-year increase, and a doubling of New Zealand wine sales after the introduction of a new Sauvignon Blanc range. Overall however, Spain and Australian led the way, accounting for 41% of the retailer’s still wine volume sales between them.

As other retailers such as Majestic cited the aggressive promotional trading environment as the cause of their difficult Christmas season, Virgin focused on the success of efforts to add value into its offer. This included the company’s recently launched “Gifts by Virgin Wines” service, which offers customers bespoke gift messaging, bottle wrapping, luxury gift packaging and free next day delivery.

Commenting on the performance, Virgin Wines CEO Jay Wright said: “Virgin Wines had a fantastic Christmas period, our best to date. It proves that if you offer outstanding wines that represent superb value for money alongside exceptional customer service, businesses in our sector can flourish.”

He expressed particular satisfaction at the retailer’s gift service, observing: “our corporate sales are going from strength to strength and our staff remain the most dedicated, passionate and enthusiastic bunch you could ever have the pleasure to work with.”

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