Wine sales are set to flow as Christmas corks pop across the region

Jay Wright, chief executive of Virgin Wines. Picture submitted

Jay Wright, chief executive of Virgin Wines. Picture submitted - Credit: Archant

A leading online wine retailer is taking on 80 new staff to cope with an expected rise in sales in the lead up to Christmas.

Virgin Wines are gearing up for a record Christmas and have employed an additional 80 staff to cope

Virgin Wines are gearing up for a record Christmas and have employed an additional 80 staff to cope with demand. - Credit: Archant

Virgin Wines is gearing up for a 33pc hike in sales in what it predicts will be its busiest season on record - with Prosecco driving festive trade.

As the nation increasingly heads online for Christmas shopping, customers are expected to snap up more than two million bottles of wine in December from the Norwich-based company which currently employs 149 people.

With the increased demand from its 190,000 active customers, 25 temporary staff members have been employed to bolster numbers in the call centre while an additional 55 people have been taken on to work in the warehouse in Preston.

As Virgin Wines predict record Christmas sales, Norwich-based wine merchants HarperWells also expects increased sales from a range of products, most notably Prosecco.

Founders of HarperWells, Ed Wells and Dean Harper.

Founders of HarperWells, Ed Wells and Dean Harper. - Credit: Archant


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In 2014 Virgin Wines saw like-for-like December sales up 20pc from £6.67m in 2013 to £8.02m in 2014, with sales of the nation's favourite fizz, Prosecco, up 170pc.

This year, sales of Prosecco at the firm have continued to grow with 101,127 bottles sold in the first eleven months of 2015 - 33,620 more compared to the same period in 2014.

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Jay Wright, Virgin Wines chief executive, said: 'We are expecting Christmas 2015 to be our biggest trading period in our history. With more shoppers turning to the convenience of online to prepare for the festive season, expectations are high.

'We're expecting to sell an additional 40,000 cases of wine due to the growth in both our core business and the seasonal effect on our gift business, www.sendagift.co.uk.'

Andrew Baker, head wine buyer at Virgin Wines, said: 'Prosecco has taken the UK by storm, with Virgin Wines sales more than tripling since 2012, the trend is not slowing down.'.

The company also expects to see a rise in Champagne sales this month, increasing from 8,344 bottles in December 2014 and 5,750 in December 2013.

Sam Howard, fine wine manager at HarperWells, said: 'Prosecco is a very big seller. What we've found is that sales are up over the whole year.'

The company have reported a 300pc increase in total Prosecco sales for the year to date compared to 2014, with online Prosecco sales up 185pc.

The company, which operates a shop in Norwich as well as their online business, has seen an increase in footfall in its store with mail order customers increasing by 27pc in 2015.

Based on current sales, HarperWells expects notable online Christmas orders to include Peller Icewine with in-store sales increasing in Port and Champagne.

Have you got a business success story? Email kate.royall@archant.co.uk

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