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Naked Wines ditches Devlin

Online retailer Naked Wines has announced that CEO Nick Devlin will leave the role immediately following a further drop in expected revenue. 

The news comes as the firm said trading in the US market was weaker than anticipated and it was reducing its revenue expectations for full-year sales for 2024 to -12% to -16%, having previously been -8% to -12%.

As a result, adjusted EBIT expectations are now £2 to 6 million rather than £8 to 12 million.

The firm said that Rowan Gormley would become executive chairman now that Devlin had left the business while a new chair was sought. It follows the news last week that Rodrigo Maza was to become managing director of Naked’s UK business. Gormley himself only returned to the business in July this year, with the aim to “support the development of plans to drive profitable growth”.

Devlin has now agreed with the board that he will step down, but will continue in the role of president of Naked Wine’s US business through the peak trading period, before leaving the group entirely.

Disappointing under-performance

Rowan Gormley, executive chairman, said of the news today: “It is disappointing to be warning of under-performance against a recent forecast. While trading in the UK and Australia has been in line with the Board’s expectations, current trading in the US has fallen well behind, both in terms of sales and margin. Customer attrition remains at historically low levels.

“My view is that this shortfall is largely to do with execution, which in turn is largely due to Nick Devlin splitting his time across both the role of CEO and US President.

“To resolve this situation Nick has agreed to step down as CEO and I will move to executive chairman while we recruit a replacement. Nick has agreed to help with the transition and stay on as US President through peak.

“I am sad to see Nick go, but his legacy remains. Naked Wines revenue has grown 50% since he took the CEO role, and Nick leaves with a lot of the hard turnaround work completed, including testing some exciting improvements to our customer proposition, which we are testing at scale right now. He goes with our best wishes.”

Further details will be disclosed as part of the Group’s interim results due to be published in mid-December, it said.

£15m loss

The announcement follows the news in September when Naked reported a £15 million loss as its sales to new customers dropped to £26.9m in 2023 from £34m in 2022. Sales to new customers were 41% lower and sales to repeat customers were 15% lower.

Chairman and founder Rowan Gormley apologised to shareholders at the time, saying: “The whole board of Naked Wines regret that your support and patience as shareholders, winemakers, angels and employees has not been rewarded. We are all determined to remedy that.”

One year earlier, the online retailer was forced to make 30 employees redundant in an effort to cut costs and create a “leaner and more focused organisation”. The redundancies meant that Naked lost 6% of its workforce.

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