Naked Wines sells Lay & Wheeler for £11.3m

Naked Wines has sold its fine wine arm Lay & Wheeler for £11.3 million, completing the final sale of its former Majestic businesses. (Updated)

The fine wine merchant, which dates back to 1854, making it one of the oldest in the UK, has been sold to an international private company, Coterie Limited, along with Vinotheque Holdings Limited, which is the landlord of Vinotheque Ltd, a 100% subsidiary of London City Bond (LCB) which provides the warehousing and storage of Lay & Wheeler.

Updated: A Naked Wines spokesperson told the drinks business that the buyer, Coterie, is a “privately held family office”, while Cavendish, who advised on the sale, told db the company did not want to be prominently featured in the Lay & Wheeler announcement. (17:25, 2/10/2019)

The merchant, which focusses on the online retail of fine wines through a subscription-based wine clubs along with brokerage and bonded cellarage, said the sale, which returns the company to private ownership, was positive for suppliers, staff and customers, and that it “looked forward to building on its historic successes with a renewed focus”.

In a letter to Lay & Wheeler’s customers, Lay & Wheeler’s MD Katy Keating said the new owners – about whom little is known – recognised the rich heritage of the business and looked forward to supporting the company’s next chapter.

“After 160 years, we are just getting started,” she said.

John Farrugia, partner at Cavendish Corporate Finance, who advised the Naked Group on the deal, confirmed that the strong performance of the company in recent months had ensured a very competitive process with a number of UK and International bidders. Before the announcement, several interested but undisclosed parties were rumoured to be interested, with Sky News naming Michael Spencer, chairman and part-owner of BI Wines & Spirits, as one of them.   

Farrugia said the deal opened a new chapter in Lay & Wheeler’s history. 

“We were pleased to capitalise on our international reach to source a high-quality buyer for Lay & Wheeler and the sale illustrates that there is still strong overseas interest in acquiring UK mid-market businesses,” he said.

Lay & Wheeler was acquired from the Wheeler family in 2009 by Majestic PLC, before the parent company’s reverse merger with Naked Wines PLC in 2015.

This year it contributed £14.9m to the  Naked Group’s underlying revenue of £505.1 million, and £1.2 million to the Group’s underlying adjusted EBIT of £12.1 million.

The commercial and retail business of Majestic Wines was sold to Fortress investment group for £100 million at the beginning of August in order for Naked Wines to concentrate on building its digital business, a plan was first announced in March.

Naked Wines said the sale represented “another significant milestone in the evolution of the Naked group by freeing up capital and resource to pursue the significant growth opportunity ahead of Naked”.

6 Responses to “Naked Wines sells Lay & Wheeler for £11.3m”

  1. James Miles says:

    Who is Coterie?

  2. James Walsh says:

    This all seems very smoke and mirrors. There is no reference to “Coterie” as an international private company anywhere on the internet. Given the level of private client reserves held at Vinotheque one would hope for a bit more disclosure about who or what this entity is, and who owns it, asap from L&W or LCB.

  3. James Walsh says:

    The other weird thing is that the Cavendish press release doesn’t mention the sale of Vinotheque at all: https://www.cavendish.com/all-deals/lay-wheeler-coterie-limited/. Are you certain Vinotheque has really been sold?

    • Arabella Mileham, db's retail editor says:

      Thanks for your comments, James. Regarding the sale of Vinotheque Holdings Ltd, Naked Wines referred to the sale of Vinotheque Holdings Ltd in its official announcement (see link: https://www.investegate.co.uk/naked-wines-plc–wine-/rns/sale-of-lay—wheeler-for–11-3-million/201910020700064691O/ ), stating that: “Naked Wines plc (“Naked” or the “Company”) today announces that it has sold the entire issued capital of Lay & Wheeler Limited and Vinotheque Holdings Limited, which together comprise the Lay & Wheeler business (“L&W”), to Coterie Limited (“Coterie”) for a total cash consideration of £11.3m (the “Disposal”).”

      Please note that Vinotheque Holdings Limited, a company owned by Naked Wine (formerly Majestic), is a completely separate company to Vinotheque Ltd, a company that is 100% owned by London City Bond (LCB), who provide the warehousing and storage for Lay and Wheeler – effectively although the landlord of the building has changed (from Naked/Majestic ownership to Coterie), that wouldn’t change LCB’s services with its clients through its subsidiary, Vinotheque. The two companies can be found on Companies House here: https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/search?q=vinotheque and I hope this clarifies.

      With regards to your other point, as per our update, Naked confirmed to us yesterday that Coterie is a privately held family office “who will enable L&W to focus on what they have historically done best – and to continue the story of on the UK’s oldest and most prestigious wine merchants“.

  4. Mostyn Pigglesworh says:

    A simple check on Companies House reveals there is no active company with the name ‘Coterie Limited’. One must assume this company has literally been incorporated very recently indeed so as not to appear on the register yet. Cloak and smoke indeed…….

  5. David Cooke says:

    The title to the wine in storage is in whose name?
    I recall the fiasco in London 30yrs ago when the wine storage company went bankrupt and all the customers’ stored wines were seized and sold

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