Lay & Wheeler saw 10% revenue boost prior to sale

Fine wine merchant Lay & Wheeler saw revenues rise nearly 10% in the year to April 2019, shortly before it was sold by Majestic Wine to a private international company.

Lay & Wheeler’s managing director Katy Keating

Turnover at the company rose 9.7% to £15.27 million over the period, from £13.9 million last year, while operating profit improved “significantly”, rising from £0.2million to £0.6million.

The company said it would accelerate growth and drive innovation by improving customer loyalty and retention, as well as growing the customer base.

In an interview following the sale, managing director Katy Keating told db that the return of the company to private hands following its £11.3 million sale by Naked Wines (formerly Majestic Wine Plc) to Coterie Limited – a privately held family office that is domiciled in the Cayman Islands, which wished to remain anonymous – would bring the company back into the spotlight.

It followed a major overhaul of the business, which saw Keating brought on board and the balance between en primeur sales and the company’s other activities redressed after concerns were raised that the majority of its profit was derived from cellarage. There has been an increase in sales of more accessible, ready-to-drink parcels of wines she noted, and the company was set to expand its range outside its Bordeaux and Burgundy heartland and bolster its growing e-commerce site.

The new owner was “100% supportive of what we’ve been doing and excited to let us continue”, she told db.

In October,  City AM reported the man behind the acquisition vehicle was American businessman David Stern, who it said had built “a number of technology businesses through his [now closed] Witan family office”.

According to documents filed at Companies House, two US residents, Finnish-national Erik Talvitie and American Erica Sugai were appointed as directors in October, with Sugai is registered to a Taiwanese address and Talvitie is registered to an address in Hong Kong. More recently, Hong-Kong based Canadian Foster Chiang has been filed as a person with significant interest in the company.

In October, financial newspaper City AM reported the man behind the acquisition vehicle was American businessman David Stern, who it said had built “a number of technology businesses through his [now closed] Witan family office”.

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