Lay & Wheeler celebrates ‘best year in a decade’By Arabella Mileham
Fine wine merchant Lay and Wheeler recorded its best year in over a decade, it has announced, with sales up 57% over the last year.
MD Katy Keating said the last 12 months had been “transformational” and the business had reaped the benefit of recent investment in its teams and services following its aquisition by two private families in October 2019.
“Our commitment to building a friendly, knowledgeable team focused on delivering best-in-class service, coupled with investment in our website, is beginning to show, and both customers and producers are noticing,” Keating said.
“It’s been a transformational year: in the last 12 months, we’ve hired eight new team members and initiated plans to build our own state-of-the-art warehouse and company headquarters, both part of our longer term strategic objectives.”
Sales of Champagne were particularly strong, up 70% on the previous year, along with wines of South Africa (up 69%) and the Bordeaux 2019 and Burgundy 2019 releases. It also noted a 20% increase in its ‘Cellar Circle’ membership, where members work with a dedicated fine wine advisor to build a wine portfolio over time, all from word of mouth and member referrals.
The company was sold by Naked Wines (formerly Majestic Wine Plc) for £11.3 million in October 2019, returning into private hands under its new owner, Coterie Limited. The man behind the acquisition vehicle was later reported by City AM to be American businessman David Stern, who it said had built “a number of technology businesses through his [now closed] Witan family office”.
Speaking to the drinks business shortly after the sale, managing director, Katy Keating told db she wanted to “bring the company back into the spotlight” and expand the range outside its Bordeaux and Burgundy heartland as well as bolstering its growing e-commerce site. Turnover at the company rose 9.7% to £15.27 million in the year to April 2019, following a major overhaul of the business, but the following year saw a dip in revenues of 1% to £15,067m.