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Beer after wine has got Norwich’s Naked Wines feeling fine

PUBLISHED: 14:51 22 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:51 22 December 2017

Eamon Fitzgerald, Naked Wines managing director, with a selection of wines. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Eamon Fitzgerald, Naked Wines managing director, with a selection of wines. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2017

An online wine merchant has brewed up plans to bolster its growth by jumping on the craft beer bandwagon.

Naked Wines office at Chapelfield Road, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNaked Wines office at Chapelfield Road, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Naked Wines, which has its headquarters on Chapelfield Road in Norwich, is keen to push forward with growth plans and has diversified into the craft beer market.

Naked’s model sees its 360,000 “angels” pay £20 a month to get access to new wines at a discount, with those funds then used to help support the winemaking process.

Now, the company is applying the same principle to craft beer – as well as gin and artisan foods – and has already signed up more than 3,200 members.

“Craft beer is a homegrown success story,” managing director Eamon Fitzgerald said. “We have just added our first exclusive beer, from Tempest Brewing Co, which ha just gone live.”

Naked Wines office at Chapelfield Road, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNaked Wines office at Chapelfield Road, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Fitzgerald said the move would give the company a chance to support small breweries, which could be good news for the plethora of brewers in Norfolk.

He said: “We launched Naked Beers in April, and it’s built over 3,000 subscribers in a very short space of time.

“We’re still very much in the test and learn phase, but we’re excited about the potential of the craft beer business.

“Beer actually has much more in common with wine than you might think. It doesn’t all taste the same.

“People want to experiment and try new things and that’s why we’re constantly on the lookout for new breweries to support. We’d love to have a local East Anglian brewer on our books at some point in the future.”

Naked was bought by Majestic Wine in 2015 in a deal believed to be worth £70m with its founder Rowan Gormley becoming chief executive of the merged group.

Mr Fitzgerald said the company had been keen to retain its individual feel and Naked still aims to have a buzz around the office.

Currently the youthful team is swollen, up to around 180 from its regular 140, as the firm deals with the busy festive season.

Around 20% of Naked’s sales come over the Christmas period with 400,000 bottles of wine shipped every day.

As a considerable importer and exporter Naked Wines will be affected by the result of Brexit negotiations on trade but Mr Fitzgerald said he was confident any rise in tariffs to and from the EU would be offset elsewhere with South Africa their biggest producer.

Naked posted £67.8m turnover in its interim results for the first half of its 2018 year, up from £59m the year before.

The period also saw earnings before interest and taxation leap to £4.7m from a £2.8m loss the year before.

Majestic also owns Colchester-based fine wines firm Lay & Wheeler which increased sales from £5.4m to £6.3m.

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